OR 'enters the 21st century' for campaign reporting

New system reports contributions by the reporting making it easier for analysts and the public to track contributions.
Written by Richard Koman, Contributor

Oregon has "finally entered the 21st century" says an open government advocate by putting online a transaction-based system for tracking campaign contributions, reports the Statesman Journal.

"I think it's fair to say that Oregon went from low grades to A-minus," said Janice Thompson, the executive director of the Oregon Money in Politics Research Action Project, based in Portland.

It took the resignation of a state representative for falsifying entries on his campaign reports to move the state legislature to adopt a new reporting system. Now, each contribution must be reported as a transaction - within 30 days.

"For the public, there is much more immediate access to the data," said John Lindback, the director of the state Elections Division. "Under the old system, months could go by before reports were submitted to our office; you had to peruse the copies, and there was no searchable database. Now it's more accessible than ever before, and it isn't like searching for a needle in a haystack."

The change means Oregon's ranking in national surveys should quickly improve. Because the system started in January, Oregon still may rank low in national surveys about accessibility to data.

"We always have gotten flunking grades from national groups because our information wasn't accessible enough, so we did not compare well with other states," Lindback said. "But I think we do now."
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