by Sean Whaley, Nevada News Bureau: In an effort to convince his fellow elected officials that filing campaign contribution and expenditure reports online and before early voting is not too onerous for candidates, Secretary of State Ross Millersaid he will do so voluntarily in advance of the Nov. 2 general election.
Miller has submitted a bill draft request for consideration by the 2011 Legislature to move the filing dates of the reports up so the information would be available to residents before they vote. Miller, who sought similar legislation without success in 2009, also wants the reports filed electronically so voters and others can search the information more easily.
Currently many of the reports are handwritten and they are not searchable.
Miller, who is running for a second term as secretary of state, said he will use himself as an example on how following his proposed legislation will not cause any great inconvenience or create any great disadvantage for candidates.
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.
“Transparency in campaign finance is always one of our biggest priorities and we’re always ranked near the bottom if not the worst in terms of the disclosure that we have in place,” he said.
Miller said one of the objections raised to the proposal in 2009 by some lawmakers was that the online filing was too onerous for some candidates.
“In order to try to rebut that claim, I’m going to go ahead and comply with the proposed statute this election cycle,” he said. “Hopefully it will establish that it really isn’t that difficult.”
The way the law reads now, the reports are not due until Oct. 26, seven days before the general election, and they can be mailed in, meaning they may not be available on the secretary of state’s website until just a day or two before the election. This existing deadline is also well after early voting has begun. The majority of people now vote early, Miller said.
Early voting in the upcoming general election begins Oct. 16.
Miller’s proposal is one of several related to the filing of campaign contribution and expense reports that will be considered by the Legislature next year.
Assembly Majority Leader John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, said Democrats will seek a change to the law requiring the filing of every financial contribution, including the amount and name of donor, online within 72 hours of receipt by the candidate.
“We’re open to reaching some sort of compromise,” Miller said. “The most important component of the legislation is to make sure the reports are filed electronically.”
The way it is now, with a 100-page handwritten report on the internet, is not helpful to voters, he said.
Assemblyman Joe Hogan, D-Las Vegas, also has submitted a bill draft to move the reporting deadlines to before early voting.
Republican secretary of state candidate Rob Lauer could not immediately be reached for comment on Miller’s proposed legislation. In his response to a transparency questionnaire sent out by the Nevada Policy Research Institute, Lauer initially indicated opposition to the filing of campaign reports so the data can be searched. He subsequently changed his answer to support for the idea.
Independent American Party candidate John Wagner also indicated support for the idea in the NPRI candidate survey.
Miller says Nevada ranks low in transparency for campaign reports:
Miller says the most important component is to make sure the reports are filed electronically:
Miller says he will file his campaign report early and update it to show the process is not onerous for candidates: