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Nevada campaign reports now to be filed electronically for better public access

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By Sean Whaley, Nevada News Bureau: Starting with the annual campaign contribution and expense reports due Jan. 17, elected officials and candidates must now file their information electronically with the Secretary of State’s office.

State lawmakers say they have not heard of any major concerns with the new requirements from their colleagues.

Sen. Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, said he has not been made aware of any concerns about the new reporting requirement from Senate Democrats or candidates. It has been an option for quite awhile and many candidates already use it, he said.

Nevada state Sen. Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas. / Nevada News Bureau file photo

“It’s actually a little easier to do it because you can just go on and do it rather than the handwritten stuff that you fax and all that,” Denis said. “It’s supposed to be easier in the long run.”

The improved transparency with the new mandate is fine with him, Denis said.

“We know going in when we run for office that we don’t have anything to hide,” he said. “The only issue that usually comes up is because we are only part-time and we don’t really have staff, unless you raise enough money to get staff, sometimes you can run into those issues. But it’s not that you don’t want to do it, but sometimes it’s an issue of having the time to do that.”

Assembly Minority Leader Pete Goicoechea, R-Eureka, said the new requirement will be a challenge for him because he is not as proficient with the on-line technology as some other office holders and candidates.

“Some of us older guys that aren’t nearly as ‘techie’; it’s going to be a little bit of a hardship on us that aren’t quite so computer literate,” he said with a laugh.

Assembly Minority Leader Pete Goicoechea. / Nevada News Bureau file photo.

But Goicoechea, a candidate for the state Senate who has filed handwritten reports in the past, said he has no issue with improved public access to the information.

“I don’t think anybody has any real issue with filing them,” he said. “It’s just going to be a little bit of a hardship for those of us that aren’t quite in this age.”

A new law that took effect Jan. 1 requires the electronic filing, which will make the information about who is contributing to candidates easier for the public to review.

The Secretary of State’s Elections Division launched its enhanced online system for campaign and public official finance reporting on Dec. 30. As of Jan. 1, 2012, all parties filing Contributions & Expense (C&E) Reports and Financial Disclosure Statements (FDS) are required to report the information electronically with the Secretary of State’s office as mandated by Assembly Bill 452.

Electronic filing applies to all filers, regardless of where they filed their reports, statements or candidacy papers in the past. Exemptions will only be granted to filers who submit an affidavit declaring they do not own, have access to, or have the financial ability to obtain access to the necessary technology. Candidates who receive or expend more than $10,000 are not eligible for the exemption.

Secretary of State Ross Miller sought the legislation in the 2011 session to improve transparency in the reporting by candidates and elected officials of their contributions and expenditures. Up to now, candidates could file the reports by mail. Often handwritten, the reports were difficult to read or analyze.

In an interview in September, Miller said: “Mandating that these reports be filed electronically is the first step in putting the information in a way that is accessible to the public. And I think when this system is unveiled it will bring Nevada out of the Dark Ages of campaign finance reporting and finally shine a light on the campaign finance data to make it accessible in a format for the public.”

Information in the reports will be available at 12:01 a.m. on Jan. 18, sooner for those who file early.

Audio clips:

Sen. Mo Denis says electronic filing should be easier:

010312Denis1 :13 long run, so.”

Denis says he is fine with the improved transparency:

010312Denis2 :25 to do that.”

Assemblyman Pete Goicoechea says the new requirement will be a hardship for those who are not technologically savvy:

010312Goicoechea1 :11 so computer literate.”

Goicoechea says the improved reporting is fine with him:

010312Goicoechea2 :11 in this age.”

 

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