Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Secret Hold Placed on Senate Disclosures

From the Sunlight Foundation:
Yet again an anonymous Senator has placed a secret hold on legislation that would increase transparency. This time a secret hold has been placed on a bill, S. 223, that would mandate that Senators file their campaign finance reports electronically. This process would not only make these reports more readily available to the public but would also save money and resources.
Yesterday this bill was blocked by an anonymous Senator who placed a secret hold on the bill. Secret holds are so looked down on these days that earlier this year the Senate itself banned the practice, although the bill containing that provision has yet to become law. But until secret holds are banished forever, we need your help in exposing the culprit who is blocking consideration of the electronic filing requirement for Senate campaign finance reports.

We need your help to find out who placed this secret hold! Call your Senators and ask them if they are the one with the secret hold on S. 223. Then report back here in the comments with your findings or contact us using this contact form. Below is a list of Senators, organized by state, and their contact info. If a Senator issues a denial we will indicate that next to their name.

So far, the tally sheet looks like this (bold indicates "response unknown"):

Senator Contact Secret Hold?
Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) (202) 224-5744 NO
Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) (202) 224-4124 NO
Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) (202) 224-3004 NO
Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) (202) 224-6665 NO
John McCain (R-Arizona) (202) 224-2235 NO
Jon Kyl (R-Arizona) (202) 224-4521
Blanche Lincoln (D-Arkansas) (202) 224-4843 NO
Mark Pryor (D-Arkansas) (202) 224-2353
Dianne Feinstein (D-California) (202) 224-3841 NO
Barbara Boxer (D-California) (202) 224-3553
Wayne Allard (R-Colorado) (202) 224-5941 NO
Ken Salazar (D-Colorado) (202) 224-5852 NO
Christopher Dodd (D-Connecticut) (202) 224-2823
Joseph Lieberman (I-Connecticut) (202) 224-4041
Joseph Biden (D-Delaware) (202) 224-5042
Thomas Carper (D-Delaware) (202) 224-2441 NO
Bill Nelson (D-Florida) (202) 224-5274 NO
Mel Martinez (R-Florida) (202) 224-3041
Saxby Chambliss (R-Georgia) (202) 224-3521 NO
Johnny Isakson (R-Georgia) (202) 224-3643 NO
Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) (202) 224-3934
Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) (202) 224-6361
Larry Craig (R-Idaho) (202) 224-2752 NO
Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) (202) 224-6142
Richard Durbin (D-Illinois) (202) 224-2152 NO
Barack Obama (D-Illinois) (202) 224-2854 NO
Richard Lugar (R-Indiana) (202) 224-4814 NO
Evan Bayh (D-Indiana) (202) 224-5623 NO
Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) (202) 224-3744 NO
Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) (202) 224-3254
Sam Brownback (R-Kansas) (202) 224-6521 NO
Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) (202) 224-4774
Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) (202) 224-2541 NO
Jim Bunning (R-Kentucky) (202) 224-4343 NO
Mary Landrieu (D-Louisiana) (202) 224-5824 NO
David Vitter (R-Louisiana) (202) 224-4623
Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) (202) 224-5344
Susan Collins(R-Maine) (202) 224-2523 NO
Barbara Mikulski (D-Maryland) (202) 224-4654 NO
Ben Cardin (D-Maryland) (202) 224-4524
Edward Kennedy (D-Massachusetts) (202) 224-4543 NO
John Kerry (D-Massachusetts) (202) 224-2742 NO
Carl Levin (D-Michigan) (202) 224-6221
Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan) (202) 224-4822
Norm Coleman (R-Minnesota) (202) 224-5641 NO
Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) (202) 224-3244 NO
Thad Cochran (R-Mississippi) (202) 224-5054
Trent Lott (R-Mississippi) (202) 224-6253
Christopher S. Bond (R-Missouri) (202) 224-5721 NO
Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri) (202) 224-6154 NO
Max Baucus (D-Montana) (202) 224-2651
Jon Tester (D-Montana) (202) 224-2644 NO
Chuck Hagel (R-Nebraska) (202) 224-4224
Ben Nelson (D-Nebraska) (202) 224-6551 NO
Harry Reid (D-Nevada) (202) 224-3542
John Ensign (R-Nevada) (202) 224-6244
Judd Gregg (R-New Hampshire) (202) 224-3324
John E. Sununu (R-New Hampshire) (202) 224-2841 NO
Frank Lautenberg (D-New Jersey) (202) 224-3224 NO
Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey) (202) 224-4744 NO
Pete Domenici (R-New Mexico) (202) 224-6621 NO
Jeff Bingaman (D-New Mexico) (202) 224-5521
Charles Schumer (D-New York) (202) 224-6542
Hillary Clinton (D-New York) (202) 224-4451
Elizabeth Dole (R-North Carolina) (202) 224-6342 NO
Richard Burr (R-North Carolina) (202) 224-3154 NO
Kent Conrad (D-North Dakota) (202) 224-2043
Byron Dorgan (D-North Dakota) (202) 224-2551
George Voinovich (R-Ohio) (202) 224-3353 NO
Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) (202) 224-2315 NO
James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) (202) 224-4721 NO
Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma) (202) 224-5754 NO
Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) (202) 224-5244 NO
Gordon Smith (R-Oregon) (202) 224-3753 NO
Arlen Specter (R-Pennsylvania) (202) 224-4254 NO
Bob Casey, Jr. (D-Pennsylvania) (202) 224-6324 NO
Jack Reed (D-Rhode Island) (202) 224-4642
Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island) (202) 224-2921
Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) (202) 224-5972 NO
Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina) (202) 224-6121 NO
Tim Johnson (D-South Dakota) (202) 224-5842 NO
John Thune (R-South Dakota) (202) 224-2321
Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee) (202) 224-4944 NO
Bob Corker (R-Tennessee) (202) 224-3344 NO
Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) (202) 224-5922 NO
John Cornyn (R-Texas) (202) 224-2934 NO
Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) (202) 224-5251 NO
Robert Bennett (R-Utah) (202) 224-5444 NO
Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) (202) 224-4242 NO
Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) (202) 224-5141 NO
John Warner (R-Virginia) (202) 224-2023
Jim Webb (D-Virginia) (202) 224-4024 NO
Patty Murray (D-Washington) (202) 224-2621
Maria Cantwell (D-Washington) (202) 224-3441
Robert Byrd (D-West Virginia) (202) 224-3954 NO
Jay Rockefeller (D-West Virginia)(202) 224-6472 NO
Herbert Kohl (D-Wisconsin) (202) 224-5653 NO
Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin) (202) 224-5323 NO
Craig Thomas (R-Wyoming) (202) 224-6441 NO
Michael Enzi (R-Wyoming) (202) 224-3424 NO

Kate Phillips at the NYT reports:
According to a transcript, Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, explained why the current practice is cumbersome, at least, on the Senate floor on Tuesday as she sought to get unanimous consent for the bill to be adopted:

Currently, House candidates, Presidential candidates, political action committees, and party committees are all required to file electronically, and they do. But Senators, Senate candidates, authorized campaign committees, and the Democratic and Republican Senate campaign committees are exempt.

As a result, we have a very cumbersome system in which paper copies of disclosure reports are filed with the Senate Office of Public Records, which then scans them, makes an electronic copy of them, and sends that copy to the F.E.C. (Federal Election Commission) on a dedicated communications line. The F.E.C. then prints the report and sends it to a vendor in Fredericksburg, Va., where the information is keyed in by hand and transferred back to the F.E.C. database. All of this costs about $250,000, and it is a waste of money, a waste of staff, and a waste of time.

At the very end of the floor discussion between Senator Feinstein and Senator Russell Feingold, Democrat of Wisconsin, an objection was raised by Senator Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee.

It is unknown who placed the secret hold. But our chief congressional correspondent, Carl Hulse, has confirmed that a Republican senator placed one on the bill. Who placed the hold? We’ll find out soon.

That leaves Jon Kyl, Mel Martinez, Mike Crapo, Pat Roberts, David Vitter, Olympia Snowe, Thad Cochran, Trent Lott, Chuck Hagel, John Ensign, Judd Gregg, John Thune or John Warner.

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