When Florida law increased the frequency of campaign finance reporting, pundits and consultants let out a collective grumble. While it still stands to be seen whether this increased disclosure actually changes anything — in a logistic sense, it certainly does. And in a transparency sense, too — greater information always finds a home among the curious, the watchdogs, and the data experts who can glean more, and more quickly.
But here’s a level of disclosure that makes Florida’s new reporting periods look like sleepy winters. A bill introduced in Congress by Sen. Angus King of Maine, and Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas, would require public disclosure of hard-money contributions within 48 hours of the moment when a candidate, committee, or party receives $1,000 or more.
This “Real Time Transparency Act” would replace the current federal quarterly reporting requirements and would allow observers to “connect the dots” so to speak on the timing of certain donations to hearings on certain issues.
DC’s Sunlight Foundation, a government-transparency advocacy group, see great potential in the availability of such data. For example, smartphone apps that notify users whenever someone sends $1,000 or more to a congressperson of interest.