From the Office of Comptroller Peter Franchot:
Annapolis, Md. (September 18, 2012) –Today, Comptroller Peter Franchot called upon his fellow state leaders to take the necessary steps to establish a real-time campaign finance disclosure system in the State of Maryland, one that would make the state a national leader in open, transparent government.
In a speech delivered at Goucher College’s Constitution Day ceremony in Towson, the Comptroller noted that the limitations of Maryland’s existing campaign finance system were exposed during last month’s special session of the General Assembly. At the conclusion of a four-day session, in which organized gambling interests poured more than
$3.6 million into advocacy efforts, the legislature authorized the construction of a sixth casino and enacted significant tax breaks for casino owners.
“We cannot uphold the best progressive traditions of our state, and we certainly cannot do proper justice to the timeless and noble principles that are expressed in our Constitution, until we make a meaningful commitment to transparent government,” said Franchot. “And we cannot do that until we give the people of Maryland the chance to know – on a daily basis — where and how campaign money is flowing in our political system.”
Comptroller Franchot, who had urged Governor O’Malley and the legislature to voluntarily disclose their own contributions from the national gambling industry prior to the special session, noted that the events that occurred last month in Annapolis merely underscore the need to provide citizens with real-time information about their state
government and the role that campaign contributions play in Maryland’s political process.
“I still believe that if citizens had this information at their disposal during the special session, we could have had a more enlightened public debate and perhaps a different outcome,” continued Franchot. “Now more than ever, we need the tools that are necessary to uphold the best values of our state, and we need to step up and make Maryland a leader among states in this effort,” he said.
While the state of Colorado has implemented an immediate online financial disclosure requirement for state elected official and other states are considering the idea, Comptroller Franchot believes Maryland has an opportunity to demonstrate national leadership in this effort.
The Comptroller pointed out that real-time information is now a routine part of our daily lives, and the technology that would make this possible is already prevalent in the private sector.
“This notion that Maryland only has the capacity to accommodate annual or semi-annual reports is antiquated, and citizens should reject that excuse,” the Comptroller said. “We see this technology displayed on a daily basis; for example, when we see deposits and withdrawals immediately applied to the balance of our checking accounts, and when
debit card transactions at the gas station and supermarket are reflected online within minutes. This has nothing to do with technological capability, and everything to do with political will.
He continued, “Marylanders should not have to wait months before knowing who contributed to the campaigns of their elected representatives. We can do better.”