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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Adventures in Online Campaign Finance: Lindsay Late, No Supplemental Filing Button

David Montgomery says Secretary of State Jason Gant's new campaign finance system still gives him fits. Yes, it's an improvement over the old paper system, but it's still a pain in the neck for users, especially for the candidates who count on this system to file their legally required data.

Roy Lindsay likely feels that way this fine election morning. The Democratic District 8 House candidate did not have a campaign finance report on file by the October 26 deadline. Secretary Jason Gant himself said that he had received no pre-general campaign finance report from the Lindsay campaign as of yesterday morning. Team Lindsay swore to me last week that they had filed it.

It's there now, dated yesterday, November 5. Lindsay has $8,687.81 on hand, mostly his own money, after spending a meager $1,792.19 so far. At least $250 of that will go to Secretary Gant as the penalty for not filing on time.

But it's hard to tell if the screw-up was really Lindsay's or the system's. Consider this cotemporaneous tale of Gant-tastic computer adventures:

I hear another person who runs a PAC (runs it? I think he is a PAC... but that's a whole nother blog post) was trying to file a supplemental report yesterday. PACs and other committees have 48 hours to file those reports from the time of the receipt of big chunks of cash; if they fail to meet that deadline, they face a Class 1 misdemeanor penalty, which can be a year in jail and a $2000 fine.

So PAC-man's clearly motivated to file that paper pronto. He logs into his account on the Secretary of State's website. He's looking for the button to file "Supplemental." Button, button, button... no button. I haven't filed reports on the new system, so I don't know if there's a supplemental report button or not. But PAC-man says there was one and that it disappeared from his account. He's got a time-sensitive document and the button that would have allowed him to file it has gone poof? That's a hair-raiser!

PAC-man called and got help: the Secretary of State's office advised simply printing a form and faxing it in, as apparently have other committees with last-minute contributions to report. There's just one more flaw in Secretary Gant's online jalopy: during the busiest time of the campaign, the system does not allow online filing of the most time-sensitive document required by the campaign finance system.

1 comment:

  1. That online system just does not work. I had to give up on it last January and resort to paper for the 2011 year-end report. And again with this year's pre-general. It had bugs and obstacles and no provisions for entering the various sources of income that are generally used, such as fund-raising events and raffles. It was clearly designed to gather data for those who want to use it for opposition research, not to make accurate reports on where the money comes from. The War College lurks distinctly in the background.


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