A case for Real Time Transparency
This past week was Sunshine Week, a nationwide initiative led by the American Society of News Editors to encourage an open government. It is good during this week (and throughout our daily lives for that matter), to reflect on what has made our democracy so resilient since our forefathers created “a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal” — to quote Lincoln.
Sewn in the fabric of our democratic society is the crucial importance of a transparent government — a government that is accountable to the people and supports access to information that belongs to the people.
In conjunction with Sunshine Week, I reintroduced the Real Time Transparency Act to help inform voters about who is funding the candidates on their ballot and to increase the level of transparency in campaign finance. The bill would require that political contributions of $1,000 or more be filed with Federal Elections Commission (FEC) within 48 hours.
In today’s digital world, people deserve real time information about who is trying to influence elections. Under current law, a contribution of $1,000 or more to a U.S. Senate campaign must be filed with the Secretary of the Senate on a quarterly basis, and all other political action committee or campaign contributions of $1,000 or more must be filed with the FEC on a quarterly basis. Only contributions made within 20 days preceding the election must be disclosed within 48 hours. This process is not nearly open enough and must be fixed.
A campaign should be like a Maine town meeting — where any person can show up, express their opinion and try to influence the outcome of the vote. In Maine, you can’t show up to a town meeting with a bag over your head, and you shouldn’t be able to do the same when contributing to a political campaign.
Fairness and transparency in our elections are vital to the health and future of our democracy. This bill is an important step forward to confront the money that is flooding unchecked into our political system and help Americans looking to make a more informed decision at the ballot box. I remain determined to address the issue of money in politics head on, and will continue to shine a light on the significance of an open government and a transparent campaign system.