Wednesday, April 01, 2009

New Reporting System Fails Public Again

An effort by several candidates to post their latest campaign finance reports on the state Government Accountability Board's new electronic filing system has gotten fouled up again - cheating the public of information it may want to look at before they vote in next Tuesday's election.

The latest glitch occurred Monday - the day the last campaign reports before the April 7 spring election were due. The board said several reports filed by candidates got stuck in the system's innards so the public could not view them.

Unfortunately, the board's effort to work around the problem and post the reports didn't work so well either.

For instance, 841 contributions totaling $157,325 on Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson's report are unidentified - no names, addresses, cities, states or zips. Those contributions represent more than half of the $296,819 she raised between February 3 and March 23.

And the numbers in the latest campaign finance report for Rose Fernandez, a state school superintendent candidate, don't come close to adding up. We were told by board staff she raised $65,611. But the report posted for her shows only $9,287 worth of contributions.

We've found many candidates make some mistakes on their report - simple math errors, not putting contributions from individuals and political action committees in the correct sections and an inexplicable knack for not being able to record the ending cash balance on one report as the beginning cash balance on the next report they file.

But we highly doubt Abrahamson or Fernandez messed up their reports this badly, given the myriad of problems the Government Accountability Board has had with electronic reporting since last fall.

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