Del. Saxman’s very complete campaign finance filing.

Del. Chris Saxman (R-Staunton) is doing something impressive—he’s reporting every single contribution he receives, including $1 from one Richard A. Hotz. (I see that NBC-29 weatherman Eric Pritchett contributed $50.) Under Virginia campaign finance law, the only contributions that need to be reported are those that exceed $100, though a contribution of any size may be reported. (First-time candidates’ first campaign filing often lists all contributions, because they don’t yet know better, or at least their treasurer doesn’t.) So a small fish like me that gives a lot of $25, $50, and $100 contributions doesn’t have much of a public contribution trail. I wouldn’t object to them being reported, but I have to wonder if some donors—like Pritchett—anticipated that the size of their contribution would allow them to remain anonymous, and might now be surprised to find that their support of Saxman is public.

Virginia law should require that contributions of any size be disclosed, and I think that filings should be required far more frequently, perhaps as often as every couple of days. But no candidate would want to be the first to do that voluntarily, or so you’d think, and yet here we have Saxman kicking that off. I hope that other candidates rise to this implicit challenge.

Published by Waldo Jaquith

Waldo Jaquith (JAKE-with) is an open government technologist who lives near Char­lottes­­ville, VA, USA. more »

6 replies on “Del. Saxman’s very complete campaign finance filing.”

  1. I’m with you on the filing of all amounts (and kudos for Saxman for /hopefully/ starting a trend), but disagree with the frequency of filings. It’s currently once a quarter, correct? I’d suggest going to maybe once a month.

  2. The important bit is that the filings come more often; that we can agree on. But since the filings can be done electronically, since all campaigns maintain their financial records on computers, and since many payments come electronically, there’s really no logistical reason not to file near-instantly. I understand that would have been totally impractical a couple of decades ago, but now it would be trivial.

  3. Leslie Byrne was the first major candidate to do this when she ran for LG in 2005.

  4. …and then Saxman quit. (Don’t know where the DNR came up with that $150 K number).

  5. The problem with requiring this by law is it unfairly targets the Sean Tevis’s of the world, folks who campaign hard on the cheap and whose entire campaigns are based on thousands of small dollar donors compared to the guy they’re challenging who has fewer donations of greater amounts. You really put the hurt on their Treasurer and bury them in paperwork if every $3 donation has to be filed.

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