Online reports a good first step

Published 10:45 am Thursday, September 29, 2016

Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann’s new program that allows candidates seeking state office to file campaign finance reports online is a step in the right direction, but more work needs to be done when it comes to transparency.

Hosemann on Tuesday unveiled a website where the public can type in a name, for instance, and find a list of all candidates receiving donations from a particular person, The Associated Press reported. 

“The goal is to make it as easy as possible to disclose and access information so the public can make educated decisions about their elected officials,” Hosemann said in a news release.

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But here’s the problem. Candidates aren’t required to use the electronic version that’s searchable on the website. They can still file the old paper forms, meaning the process isn’t perfect.

Hosemann has proposed to make the filing of campaign finance reports online mandatory for candidates by 2020.

“We are going to encourage everybody to file online the first of the year when reports are due,” said Hosemann.

Some candidates who value transparency will likely use the online system, but those with something to hide likely won’t. And it’s those reports the public needs easy access to.

Hosemann has proposed several new reforms for the elections process, including requiring candidates to itemize credit card statements. But the legislation dealing with many of Hosemann’s proposals died during the 2016 session in efforts to prohibit candidates from using their campaign finance funds for personal use, AP reported.

We encourage Hosemann to keep pushing for a more transparent elections process, and we encourage lawmakers to not get in his way.