Appropriations Package Includes “E-File” Campaign Finance Requirement For Senate Candidates

The Senate passed a package of appropriations bills Thursday that contained a provision requiring Senate candidates to electronically file campaign finance forms directly to the Federal Election Commission, announced Senate Appropriations Committee Vice Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.).

Under current law, candidates for the United States Senate must submit paper copies to the Secretary of the Senate who then files the forms to the Federal Election Commission.  This process can delay the public release of campaign finance information, including what organizations and individuals donated to the candidate, for weeks. 

Leahy said: “In a post Citizens United world, any step we can make to increase transparency in campaign finance, however small, is a step in the right direction.  This provision will increase access to this valuable information on candidates for the Senate, allowing the United States public to hold the candidate responsible for who they accepted contributions from and why.  I am glad the Senate is finally moving into the 21st century.”

The House required electronic filing for campaign finance reports in 1995 and presidential candidates were required to file electronically beginning in 2001.  By eliminating the need for staff intensive manual data entry and physically transporting the paperwork, it is estimated that moving Senate candidates to an electronic system will save nearly $1 million a year. 

The provision was approved by the Senate in a vote of 92 to 5 in a package of appropriations bills, nicknamed a “minibus,” which included the fiscal year 2019 Legislative Branch, Energy and Water Development, and Military Construction and Veteran Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Bills.  The package is expected to pass the House later this week and will then need to be signed into law by the President.

Senator Leahy’s full statement is available HERE: https://www.appropriations.senate.gov/news/minority/vice-chairman-patrick-leahy-d-vt-statement-on-on-senate-passage-of-the-minibus-i-conference-report

A conference report summary is available HERE: https://www.appropriations.senate.gov/news/minority/senate-appropriations-committee-vice-chairman-leahy-d-vt-releases-conference-agreement-summary-for-minibus-i

Conference report text is available HERE: https://www.appropriations.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Conference%20Report%20to%20accompany%20H.R.%205895.pdf

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