Rep. Merrill Cook, R-Utah, says his proposal to require quick posting of financial disclosure forms on the Internet may be the best campaign reform that Congress can enact.
"My bill is not comprehensive reform, but it is reform Congress can enact this year," Cook told the House Committee on Oversight on Thursday."Equally important, the Supreme Court would not strike down my bill's reform because of First Amendment issues," he said.
Of course, many other reforms under consideration - from banning unlimited "soft money" to parties to outlawing special-interest political action committees - could be construed to infringe on free-speech rights.
Cook's proposal would require candidates to file disclosure forms electronically to the Federal Election Commission, which then would have to post them on the Internet within 24 hours.
Cook said he is pleased that the FEC began two months ago on its own to post such forms on the Internet without his bill passing - but said his legislation is still needed.
"The FEC has no mandatory obligation or deadline for posting these reports," he said. Also, most candidates still file disclosures by paper and mail, which can delay availability for days and weeks - which could hide campaign-end problems until after an election.