April 8, 2009

Transparency deters candidates from running?

Today, the Sun detailed the effort and opposition to making campaign finance reporting more transparent.

Why are some opposed to increased transparency? Too much work.

Defenders of the current system emerge, worrying that added requirements to report contributions would create more work for candidates. More work would scare away good candidates, they argue.

Nevada is 45th in the nation when it comes to campaign finance transparency, according to campaigndisclosure.org.

What are some of the things candidates can currently get away with?

Candidates don’t have to submit their final contribution and expense reports until after early voting starts. Candidates don’t have to disclose how much money they have on hand.

One person can set up shell corporations to funnel an unlimited amount of money to a candidate, nearly anonymously. Campaign forms are regularly filled out by hand, which are often hard to read, at times suspiciously so.

The shell corporation idea sounds like something from a third-world dictator's playbook, not a mild-mannered housewife from Sparks.

Those candidates understand what they're doing. By submitting forms late and in inscrutable handwriting they know that people will be less likely to carefully analyze them.

But fear not! A compromise wafts though the stuffy, cigar smoke-tinged halls of the Carson City sausage making factory.

As for the requirement that candidates file forms electronically, legislators agreed but pushed back the start date to 2011, when many of them will be forced out of office by term limits. (Emphasis mine)

That's right folks. Some in the legislature love transparency so much they'll pawn it off to the next batch of politicians.

Here is the Sun's editorial on it.