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Public Statements

Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act of 2012

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. TESTER. This is a straightforward amendment. It simply requires candidates for the Senate, both challengers and incumbents, file their quarterly campaign finance reports electronically. Anyone seeking the Presidency or a spot in the U.S. House of Representatives is required to submit campaign finance records electronically right now, but Senators or would-be Senators are not. It makes no sense.

Right now, Senate candidates drop off a hard copy of their filing report with the Secretary of the Senate. Someone from the FEC comes over and then takes the reports over to the FEC to make copies, and then, finally, the copies are put online.

These documents often run hundreds of pages in length. The FEC estimates it wastes about $250,000 of taxpayer money each year just to make those copies and put them online.

Now, that might not sound like a lot of money in Washington, DC, but the idea of spending $1/4 million on an outdated process represents what is wrong with Washington, DC.

Americans deserve to know how much money candidates raise and from whom, and they deserve to be able to access that information in real time.

It is not just the cost of the current process that folks should be angry about. The process of making copies and posting the documents online takes weeks. That is not just a waste of time, it is bad for the democratic process.

Campaign finance data filed right before a general election is not available to the public until the following February, long after the election has already taken place.

Since the Citizens United ruling, folks aren't able to tell who is funding third-party advertisements. It is hard enough to know who is spending the money on third-party advertisements. The least we can do is to make sure that folks have better access to the information about who is giving to the candidates.

My bill from the last Congress had strong bipartisan support--14 Democrats, 6 Republicans, and 5 of the cosponsors are members of the Homeland Security Committee. I especially appreciate, and I wish to thank, the Republican manager of the STOCK Act, Senator Collins, for being a supporter of that original bill.

We have an opportunity to do something that cuts government spending and adds more transparency and accountability to the elections process. I urge all of my colleagues to support this amendment.

With that, I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.


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