De León discloses campaign finances at a snail’s pace

In his race against U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, state Sen. Kevin de León failed to submit his latest campaign finance statements online, limiting the ability of Californians to see those reports for days if not weeks after they arrive by mail in Washington, D.C.

Feinstein filed her latest report with Federal Elections Commission on Friday electronically, as she generally does. Many other senators, including Kamala Harris, also file their reports electronically. De León mailed his.

Tradition dies hard: Senate rules do not require that candidates file electronic versions of their campaign statements, which detail who gives them money and how they spend it.

Instead, they can use “snail mail” to send paper copies, which can run thousands of pages, to the Senate office. U.S. House of Representative candidates must file their campaign statements online, as do state candidates.

The Federal Elections Commission retrieves paper copies from the Senate and hires contractors to key in the data into computers so the reports can be placed online. I described the cumbersome process in this 2007 article.

Feinstein promised back then to work to change the rules: “It’s time to bring the Senate into the modern era.”

Not much has changed.

An aide to de León said the state senator doesn’t rule out filing online in the future.

Bill Carrick, Feinstein’s campaign strategist: “People who don’t file online don’t want people to know what their numbers are.”

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