Spin Cycle

News, views and commentary on Long Island, state and national politics.

On Thursday, the deadline for campaign finance filings, reports for New York’s two senators, Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, were nowhere to be found.

They are still missing.
All 435 House members and presidential candidates are required file campaign finance reports electronically. Senators are not. Due to an exception in a 1999 law, senators can file on stacks of paper that take a meandering, costly course to the public eye. They mail reports to the office of the Senate, which sends pdf files of them to the Federal Election Commission, which prints them out, and sends them to a contractor, whose employees type them into electronic files. It takes weeks and costs $250,000, the FEC says.
It’s not as if Senators are unaware of this. Every year, Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) or someone else sponsors a bill to require the upper house to file electronically. Schumer and Gillibrand are among 41 sponsors this year. It never passes.
Senators can file electronically if they wish. Last week the FEC Web site posted reports from seven senators — none of them from New York.
Six years ago Schumer gave it a shot. He never did it again.
Schumer supports efforts to make filings more transparent, his spokesman Brian Fallon said, but sees “little difference between filing electronically and on paper.” Fallon contended, “Under both methods, the information is posted online quickly, and is fully searchable.” As of Friday, the FEC still had not posted reports for New York’s senators. Fallon declined to divulge what Schumer raised, spent or has in the bank.
Gillibrand spokesman Matt Canter released her summary report but had nothing to say about filing electronically. Her filing isn’t in her Web site’s “Sunlight Report.”