Thursday, February 5, 2015

Dear Councilman, Local campaign finance reports should be online.

Dear Council Member,

If I want to know how much money a national PAC raised and who contributed and how the PAC spend their money, I can go to online to the Federal Election Commission and see the full financial reports. The same is true for a candidate seeking federal office or someone seeking a party's nomination for federal office.

If I want to see the financial report of a candidate for Governor, State Senate, House or other office, I can go to The Tennessee Registry of Election Finance and find the financial report on line.

If I want to see the financial report of a candidate for Mayor, Vice Mayor and member of the Metro Council, I must go in person to the Davidson County Election Commission at 1417 Murfreesboro Pk, request it and pay 15 cents per page. There is no excuse for that.

The Tennessean did a report on the campaign reports of the candidates for Mayor, but it was a summary.  I would like to examine the financial report of every candidate running for Mayor and Metro Council. I want to see how much they raised and who is contributing to their campaign.  I am an amateur blogger who makes no money off of what I do. To go to the office of the Election Commission and wait while they make copies of all of the reports would be time consuming and expensive.

There is no excuse for local campaign reports not being online. Transparency makes for better government. It is as about as time consuming to make a copy as it is to scan something for uploading. I am sure the Election Commission will say it would be costly to put campaign reports on line. Don't buy that. Actually, having campaign reports on line would probably save money.  The reports would only have to be scanned once and the Election Commission would not have to deal with members of the public wanting copies.

I ask you to sponsor a memorializing resolution asking the Election Commission to put all local campaign financial reports online and when the Election Commission appears before the Council for budget consideration, I encourage you to get a commitment from officials of the Election Commission that they will put financial reports online.  If this still does not accomplish getting local campaign financial reports available online, then I urge you to mandate it. 

Rod Williams

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