Thursday, December 10, 2015
Freeman Wants More Transparency in Legislature and Politics
His first bill (H.B. 1744) would require the state auditor general to audit the General Assembly and its legislative service agencies, rather than hiring a certified public accountant.
"The auditor general is the chief watchdog of how state funds are spent," Freeman said. "His office audits the various agencies of state government on a regular basis. Having the auditor general do the legislative audits will make it a more public and transparent process and has the added benefit of saving money since the need for hiring an outside firm would no longer be required."
Freeman's bill would require the auditor general to audit all financial accounts of the General Assembly annually, and to provide for special audits if necessary. Copies of the audits would be submitted to House and Senate leaders and be made available to the public.
It;s unclear whether this audit would include the party caucuses.
This bill has 17 sponsors, including Freeman. Surprisingly, Republican Justin Simmons has agreed to co-sponsor, along with LV democrats Steve Samuelson, Pete Schweyer and Danny McNeill. I don't see Schlossberg's name. He's probably busy renting the limo to drive Fed Ed to the Pa Society at the Waldorf.
Additional Report From Legislative Candidates
Freeman's second bill (H.B. 1745) would require candidates for the General Assembly to follow the same expense report requirements as candidates for statewide office. Currently, both General Assembly and statewide office candidates are required to file a report on the second Friday before an election, but only candidates for statewide office are required to report on or before the sixth Tuesday before the election.
"This change would provide earlier disclosure and greater transparency on who is contributing to candidates for the General Assembly," Freeman said. "This is information voters should have access to earlier in a campaign than they currently do."
The currently required second-Friday expense report is filed just 10 days before the election. Freeman said that filing comes so close to the election that the information about where candidates are getting their contributions tends to get lost in the last week of campaign literature and other information.
The lack of newspaper coverage makes things even worse.
"This would put everything on the table and allow voters to see who is backing which candidates and what they stand for, or more importantly, who they stand with," Freeman said. "It also offers candidates the benefit of saving time and effort when filing their second Friday report because they would have already reported finance information just over a month earlier."
Both measures are expected to be referred to the House State Government Committee for review.
As weak a reform as this is, Freeman only has 13 sponsors, including himself. Locally, only Danny McNeill has joined him.
I contacted Freeman to discuss this legislation with him, but fortunately, he is stuck in Harrisburg and is actually working on resolving the state budget impasse at this moment.
I consider both bills extremely weak. A 6th Tuesday report means very little because most money is not collected until much closer to the election. But when a report is filed, wouldn't it be nice to see it online? Shouldn't state candidates be required to efile their reports so they can be viewed immediately? Shouldn't all report, for every office, be available online in the County where the candidate is running?