Story by Mike Dennison, MTN News
HELENA, Mont. – Money raised by U.S. Senate candidates will be easier to track, thanks to the passage of a bill in which both Montana senators played a role.
President Trump on Friday signed the bill, which says U.S. Senate candidates must now file their campaign-finance reports electronically.
While the U.S. House has required members to file these reports electronically since 2001, the Senate had not followed suit, forcing candidates to file the often-lengthy reports on paper.
The data then were input manually at the Federal Election Commission, delaying the public availability of the information until weeks after it had been filed.
Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., first introduced a bill in 2008 to require electronic filing. On Friday, he said it was about time it happened.
“With the signing of my bipartisan e-filing bill, the Senate is finally joining the 21st Century,” he said in a statement. “I’ve been fighting for over 10 years to make this common-sense idea a reality, and now elections will be more transparent for everyone.”
Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., chaired the budget subcommittee that included the language in a larger spending bill, and said he pressed for its passage.
“Campaigns should be as transparent as possible and this bill mandates that U.S. Senate candidates file their campaign-finance reports electronically, so the information is easily accessible to the American people,” he said Friday. “I fought hard to include this provision in the final appropriations bill and I’m glad to know it will go into effect immediately.”