by Sean Whaley, Nevada News Bureau: While Secretary of State Ross Miller has announced he will voluntarily post his campaign contribution and expense report early so voters can review the information prior to casting their ballots in the Nov. 2 general election, other candidates are not ready to follow suit.
Both Assembly Majority Leader John Oceguera and Assembly Minority Leader Pete Goicoechea said there are too many issues involved for them to recommend to their caucuses and candidates to file the reports in mid-October before early voting begins.
Goicoechea, R-Eureka, said changes to the reporting process need to be thoroughly considered by the 2011 Legislature before they can be implemented.
“I have a lot of questions,” he said. “We need to take a long hard look at the total ramifications of any changes.”
Goicoechea said there is a lot at stake for both parties in the legislative elections in November, with Assembly Republicans looking to increase their number to take away a veto-proof 28-seat majority now held by Democrats.
A problem with early reporting of contributions is that the opposing party would see which races a caucus was focusing on, he said.
“We have to show not only where the contributions come from, but where we’re spending the money,” Goicoechea said. “It makes it difficult.”
In an email response to a question about whether Assembly Democrats would follow Miller’s example and post their reports early, Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, said any reforms to the filing of campaign contribution and expense reports must be uniformly applied to everyone. In addition, many of the Democrat candidates running for Assembly seats in the November general election do not have the staff or financing to prepare such reports ahead of time, he said.
“Of the 42 Democratic candidates for state Assembly, many have submitted handwritten reports because they don’t have the staff or financing to prepare accurate reports at a moment’s notice during the busiest time in their campaign,” Oceguera said.
Miller has requested legislation to move up the reporting dates for the contribution and expense reports, saying they don’t come out now until early voting is well under way. Miller also wants reports filed electronically so they can be easily searched by the public.
So 21 days before the Nov. 2 general election, Miller said he will electronically file his campaign contribution and expenditure report online for the public to review. In keeping with his proposed legislation, Miller will also file a report four days before the general election detailing any contributions received by his campaign in excess of $1,000 after the initial report filing.
Oceguera has proposed an alternative for consideration by the 2011 Legislature which would require reporting of contributions within 72 hours of receipt.
“I believe my proposal of switching over to online filing of contributions and expenditures within 72 hours gives even more transparency, and all filings are automatically searchable,” he said. “With my proposal we accomplish both goals at once and the rules apply to everyone.”
Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, did not respond to a request for comment.
Senate Minority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno, said he has not asked his caucus members who are running for re-election in this cycle about voluntarily reporting contributions and expenditures ahead of the deadline. Raggio is in the middle of his term and is not up for re-election this year.
Raggio said he has no problem with earlier reporting as long as the process does not become a trap for candidates who might forget and miss a deadline by one day. But he said any reporting changes should apply to everyone, including political action committees that spend money on behalf of candidates or on issues.
“There is no harm in doing it, but I think the information is of more interest to the media than the public,” Raggio said.