The Norman Transcript

Opinion

December 18, 2013

Flaws in the system

NORMAN — Campaign contribution reports are gold mines for those who work in the public policy and political arenas. Entire industries are set up to mine tidbits of information that tell who gave what contribution to whom and when.

Now, at a time when the state is going online in most other pursuits, the state may choose to go old school in its campaign finance information and lobbying expenditures filings.

The Oklahoman reports that Ethics Commission executive director Lee Slater is looking for a solution to the unreliable system it now operates. Years ago, candidates filed paper lists of contributors and lobbyists reported what they spent on politicians.

Nowadays, the filings can be emailed to the commission. A few candidates have said they sent them, but they never show up online. Reverting to the paper system could be advantageous.

A new system could cost between $3 million and $6 million.

The entire agency budget is less than $1 million, so a special appropriation would be needed.

It’s not likely lawmakers would want to spend that kind of money in what is shaping up as a lean budget year. There are some cheap solutions.

Documents could be filed on paper, scanned into the system and then made available online.

The drawback is that the documents would not be searchable and would be less useful to the public.

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