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Ensign Blocks Electronic Filing For Senate Campaigns

Senate Rules and Admininstration Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) tried once again on Monday to pass legislation requiring electronic filing of campaign disclosure reports by Senate campaigns, only to have a Republican block it.

National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman John Ensign (R-Nev.) objected to an unanimous consent request by Feingold and Feinstein to approve S. 223, the "Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act." Feingold and Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) are the principal sponsors of the bill, which has the bipartisan backing of  another 39 senators, including Feinstein. The bill was approved by the Rules Committee on March 28 but has faced a GOP filibuster threat ever since, including a secret hold by an anonymous Republican senator.

House and presidential campaigns already require electronic filings of campaign reports, but the Senate has failed to approve a similar measure.

Feingold suggested that Ensign, as the party's top Senate campaign strategist was likely behind the previous two times Republicans blocked the bill. Under the new ethics law recently signed by Bush, secret "holds" are no longer allowed. so if Ensign wanted to prevent the electronic filing bill from coming up under unanimous consent, he would have to object himself, rather than having a party leader or floor manager doing it for him.

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