SunHerald editorial: Senate should follow Cochran’s example

The United States Senate is the last bastion of shuffling paperwork when it comes to filing campaign finance reports.

All other federal candidates are required to electronically file their reports with the Federal Election Commission. But not senatorial candidates.

To his credit, U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., is one of the handful of incumbent senators who e-file their reports.

“The Senate is an institution that generally cherishes its traditions, but the paper filing of campaign finance reports is one practice that should be modernized,” said Cochran, who is the primary co-sponsor of pending legislation to require his colleagues to ease themselves into the 21st century.

Among the holdouts, we regret to say, is Mississippi’s other Republican senator, Roger Wicker.

“I support efforts to bring greater transparency and accountability to Senate campaign standards through online filing,” Wicker said in a statement to the Sun Herald. “However, current rules mandate that Senators and candidates file hard copies of their campaign reports with the Secretary of the Senate. I will continue to follow that rule until the much-needed change is made.”

The change is indeed much needed. As Cochran notes, “Electronic filing would make the reporting process more efficient, save money and improve the ability of voters to access this information.”

The savings are not insignificant: It costs an estimated $500,000 a year for the FEC to process senatorial campaign paperwork.

SunHerald
3/16/14