What good are finance reports if we can’t easily look them up?

If the idea of turning in campaign finance reports for elections is to provide transparency, the Montgomery County Board of Elections gets a big fat F.

I can search the Federal Elections Commission database and analyze who gave money to which Congressman- and cross index by employer. I can go to other sites that pivot the data and make it easier to do analysis- like Open Secrets that is very useful for this- It even includes the ability to link to a search (the proper way to do this- if anyone at Montgomery County is taking notes).

But, to look at campaign finance reports for this year, or past years, it means calling or going to the Board of Elections and looking at old fashioned paper. Not even badly created PDFs that are just scanned and not made readable via optical character recognition. I was lucky enough to get Rhine McLin’s and Nan Whaley’s campaign finance reports faxed over, and with just a cursory look, there is a lot more big money coming in than the Dayton Daily News  mentioned in its article McLin, Whaley lead money race for mayor, city commission campaign. Sure, the 15,500 that a Mr. Kitt Cooper “donated” should make any reporter very curious, but, it wasn’t just 2 checks for over $1,000 from Kettering Health Network senior officials- there were a whole bunch of them (as soon as I confirm employment with sources inside the hospital- and cross referencing Federal donations to Mike Turner’s Congressional campaigns to confirm- I’ll have the complete list for you). The irony of someone supporting McLin with big money- who also supports Turner with big money- says more about what money buys- as compared to, uh, political ideals.

Looking over expenditures- if you donate to McLin or Whaley, you are also giving them money to play with. Yep, they freely give to other candidates according to the reports- probably to attend fundraisers for other democrats. I can guarantee no money given to me will do that (although in full disclosure, if I hire my employees to do work on the campaign- I do pay my own company. Of course, this is the same thing Mike Turner does with his wife’s firm). I’m sure a few commentator’s will go bat-crazy on that policy- although it’s always been disclosed. I don’t bill my supporters for the work I do- and that costs me a lot of time and money.

The last difference between my campaign report and those of McLin and Whaley- mine has no donations by Political Action Committees or Special Interest Groups. I also see a check or two that seems to be drawn on company funds- technically a no-no. I was once reprimanded for accepting $500 in cash- and had to issue a check back, and get a check from a supporter. Different standards for different candidates I guess.

Again, I’d love to be able to just simply post their reports for you to see, or give you a link to their sites, or to the BOE with them, but I guess I’m the only one who seems to try to make sure that the information is right there for you, to analyze it yourself. That’s the kind of government I believe in, and the kind of leadership I want to bring to Dayton.

Please consider a donation or sign up to volunteer on the sidebar at right, if you support this kind of transparency in government and my campaign. To borrow from the Obama campaign, please consider a donation of $25 to help the cause.

Thank you.

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