Pa. Senate powerhouse backs online reporting for candidates

     Pennsylvania Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi of Delaware County is facing a challenge for leadership of the state Senate. (AP file photo)

    Pennsylvania Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi of Delaware County is facing a challenge for leadership of the state Senate. (AP file photo)

    One of the most powerful Republican leaders in Harrisburg wants to require candidates for office in Pennsylvania to file their campaign contributions and expenses online, rather than on paper.

    A bill introduced by state Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi of Delaware County has already passed in the Senate and is awaiting action in the House.

    I wrote last week about the need for electronic filing in Pennsylvania. State and local candidates have to report the names of all their political contributors, as well as the donors’ occupations, employers and the amounts they give. But a full month after that information was due for 2013 donations, the reports of many candidates, including Gov. Tom Corbett, still aren’t in the state’s searchable online database.

    That’s because the law allows campaigns to file paper reports (except in Philadelphia where the local ordinance requires electronic filing for local offices).

    All the gubernatorial candidates this time chose to file on paper, and that leaves the folks at the Pennsylvania Department of State with the job of converting that paper information into digital data.

    “We actually send that out to a contractor who must manually data-enter all that information,” spokesman Ron Ruman told me. “And some of these reports for candidates for governor are hundreds of pages long.”

    Pileggi said voters want to know who’s funding the candidates on the ballot in the May 20 primary election.

    “And they’d like to know that before they cast their vote in the primary,” Pileggi said. “So it is important that that information be available quickly and easily.”

    Pileggi’s bill is in the House State Government Committee along with legislation requiring online filing by Rep. Tim Briggs, D-Montgomery.

    It’s up to the committee chairman, Butler County Republican state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, to bring either bill to a vote.

    Pileggi told me he’s “working with House Republican leadership and the chairman of the committee” to get it to a vote.

    “I don’t know that anyone has publicly spoken against it in any way,” Pileggi said, “but the actions are what matter, and we’d like to get it on the governor’s desk before we finish our work this June on the state budget.”

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