Friday, September 14, 2007

Put Local Campaign Finance Reports Online

My favorite Lehigh Valley internet hooligan Bernie O'Hare of Lehigh Valley Ramblings points out that you can obtain campaign finance information for federal and state office seekers on the intertubes and asks:

But what about candidates seeking local office? Sure, they're required to list their campaign donors and expenses with the local elections office, but who bothers to scrutinize them? Aside from a few reporters and opposing candidates, nobody.

I find the Luzerne County Bureau of Elections website is a great tool. It has past election results, lists of candidates and committees, every form you need to run for office, where to vote and much more. But it lacks one vital piece of information, campaign finance reports.

Like most people I don't have the time to go to the courthouse annex to read them and try to connect the dots. So Bernie inspired me to ask our own Luzerne County Director of Elections Leonard Piazza about it.

His response:

Thanks for the compliments!

Since becoming director, among all of the other things we've set out to do, the only thing that remains is to do exactly what your are requesting--get the campaign finance reports online.

It is very costly to have the reports sent out, however, and have the info recorded so it may be searchable, like the states and the FEC's sites; this I've already looked into.

That leaves us with the option of scan to PDF, not a bad fact, I prefer it. We do have the capability to do that in-house, however, it is very time consuming and tedious to do. Now that I have all of the active campaign finance committees together and informed,etc., I have begun to work on a plan anew to get them online...we will, of course, as with many other things we've done here, be the first in the state to accomplish it if we are successful.

It may take some time though, because I will, in all fairness to all committees, only launch that portion of the website once all of the committees are scanned and hyperlinked. It may even be that I have to hire a part-timer to help out in some way.

Follow up in the months ahead on it to see where we are with it, I really wish it was out there too.

Keep on bloggin'!


I understand that it's a big job to put this information online and it won't happen before the the November election but it should be available before the the 2009 local election.


t.g. said...

Putting the CFR's online, where more folks could check them out without having to make the drive to the courthouse, fill out the open-records requests, etc. would certainly be a great leap toward putting much of the funny business that goes on in Luzerne County politics to bed. Of course, then the local Dem's will actually have to pay attention and ensure that everything listed on their CFR's is true and correct BEFORE they sign an affidavit and have it notarized that everything listed is true and correct.

Walter said...

I agree with T.G. I know first hand about CFR's that are not legal or correct...but the Bureau of Elections refuses to do anything about it...because that would require them to do their jobs and make all elections and CFR's fair...Do you actually believe that the CFR can be amended if someone complains without any penalty or fee??? so I ask ...whats the purpose of filing one in the first place...