Accountability: The representative from Rogers will propose some | Arkansas Blog

Monday, April 25, 2016

Accountability: The representative from Rogers will propose some

Posted By on Mon, Apr 25, 2016 at 7:22 AM

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Rep. Jana Della Rosa of Rogers says she will this week ask for approval of legislation to pay for an on-line filing system for campaign finance reports.

She's tried before. The House defeated required on-line filing in 2015 on the spurious argument that online connectivity might be a problem. Wireless Internet is available throughout Arkansas and the reports are not big files in the digital world. The bill was really defeated for an uglier reason — fear of accountability.

Online filing would make data easily searchable. You could readily target, for example, nursing home owner Michel Morton's contributions to judges, members of the General Assembly and PACs. As it stands, the secretary of state system is cumbersome. You must download multiple PDFs and the filing is not always reliable, wth occasional bad links to reports and sometimes an absence of paper backups. Remember the disappearing campaign finance contribution reports of Shawn Womack, heading to the Supreme Court, in his first race for circuit court. Lost forever if they ever were filed — online and on paper.

When the Della Rosa bill runs, don't be confused by blown smoke. It is about transparency in government and public accountability. Only about a third of the states don't require online filing. Perhaps this is the year Arkansas can lead the bottom tier out of the darkness.

We could also use an appropriation to make the necessary upgrades so that all rooms in which the Senate conduct business are TV-ready. Then on some bright and glorious future day, the Senate will allow its activities to be televised, as the House already does.

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