Senator John Flanagan (R-C, East Northport), Chairman of the Senate Elections Committee, announced today that a campaign finance reform bill that will extend computerized disclosure requirements to local races and improve public access to campaign finance records was signed by Governor Pataki.
"As was shown in a report earlier this year, the state has tremendous difficulty in correlating these filings and, as a result, discovering violations when they occur." Senator Flanagan said. "Until campaign finance statements for local elections and candidates are computerized, violations by those who contribute to various elections throughout the state will remain virtually impossible to track. I applaud Governor Pataki for signing this important measure into law."
"As the sponsor of this legislation, I know extending computerized disclosure requirements to local races will improve general access to campaign finance records to a level that the public has come to expect," Senator Flanagan said. "This will also enable the State Board of Elections to better monitor and enforce campaign contribution limits. In order to give the public meaningful access to campaign finance information at the local level, and to have the tools to monitor full compliance with contribution limits, the state should expand the electronic filing requirement to committees and candidates in local elections."
Under the new law, a candidate or campaign committee will be required to file its financial disclosure statements on computer disk with the State Board of Elections and in paper format with their county board of elections, or in electronic format if the county provides for electronic filing.
The filings would be posted by the State Board of Elections on the web to ensure public access to the documents. In addition, the electronic filings will help the State Board determine if any campaign finance law has been violated.
In 1997, legislation was adopted requiring the state board of elections to develop and maintain an electronic reporting system to process statements of campaign receipts, contributions, transfers, and expenditures filed by candidates and committees of statewide elections only.
The new law requiring electronic filing of local campaign finance statements will take effect on January 1, 2006.