Legislation & policy analysis

More than half of all senators support commonsense bill to save taxpayers money and increase transparency

A bipartisan proposal to save taxpayers money and increase political transparency has passed a new milestone.

Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) has become the 51st sitting senator to sponsor the Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act (S. 298), legislation that would require senators and Senate candidates to electronically file their campaign finance reports, something that House candidates and presidential candidates have been doing for nearly two decades. The Federal Election Commission estimates that making this change would save taxpayers $876,000 a year.

“We applaud Sen. Isakson for joining with half of his colleagues in sponsoring this long-overdue policy change,” said Issue One Executive Director Meredith McGehee. “The Senate’s current process represents bureaucratic inefficiency and wasteful spending at its worst. The Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act is a straightforward fix that is supported by a majority of senators, including Democrats, Republicans and independents alike. The Senate should pass this policy as soon as possible.”

Added Michael Beckel, Issue One’s research manager: “There is no good policy reason why senators and Senate candidates should not e-file their campaign finance reports. In an age of iPhones, Twitter and Facebook, it’s absurd that some candidates are still required to file reams of paper to disclose their fundraising and expenditures. A majority of senators understand that now is the time for the Senate to embrace the digital age and stop wasting taxpayer money processing paper copies of campaign finance reports.”

The Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act — whose chief sponsors are Sens. Jon Tester (D-MT) and Thad Cochran (R-MS) — has been endorsed by a host of groups from across the ideological spectrum.

In November, Issue One was joined by 20 other conservative, liberal and nonpartisan organizations in calling for senators to cosponsor the Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act and support the passage of this commonsense legislation.

The signatories of this letter included the Campaign​ ​Finance​ ​Institute; Campaign​ ​Legal​ ​Center; Cause​ ​of​ ​Action​ ​Institute; Center​ ​for​ ​Political​ ​Accountability; Center​ ​for​ ​Responsive​ ​Politics; Common​ ​Cause; Demand​ ​Progress​ ​Action; Democracy​ ​21; Government​ ​Accountability​ ​Institute; Issue​ ​One; Judicial​ ​Watch; League​ ​of​ ​Women​ ​Voters​ ​of​ ​the​ ​United​ ​States; Liberty​ ​Coalition; MapLight; National​ ​Institute​ ​on​ ​Money​ ​in​ ​State​ ​Politics; National​ ​Legal​ ​and​ ​Policy​ ​Center; OpenTheGovernment; Project​ ​On​ ​Government​ ​Oversight; Sunlight​ ​Foundation; Take​ ​Back​ ​Our​ ​Republic; and Taxpayers​ ​for​ ​Common​ ​Sense.

According to data provided to Issue One by GovTrack.us, thousands of bills and resolutions have been introduced in the Senate so far this year. The Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act has more cosponsors than all but roughly a dozen of them — making it one of the most popular, bipartisan proposals in the chamber.