Better Late than Never (Updated with Proft filing)

Disclosure reports from political committees were due to be filed with the State Board of Elections one week ago. ICPR is tracking 1,000 committees for candidates around the state, and found over 100 who failed to meet the filing deadline.

Late filers included newly-elected US Rep. Randy Hultgren, Chicago Ald John Pope, tea party favorite Cedra Crenshaw, and Chicago mayoral candidates Carol Moseley Braun and Miguel Del Valle. But to their credit, all of those have since filed the reports, some only a few hours late.

Most of the stragglers had submitted their reports by early this week, but three dozen were still missing reports as of this morning. Chicago Ald. Emma Mitts is probably the most prominent who has yet to file; others are mostly candidates who lost election last year or challengers in this year's aldermanics: lobbyist Elgie Sims, who jousted with Cook County Commissioner William Beaver (8th District); Enrique Perez, now running for 2nd Ward Alderman; and campaign consultant and Republican gubernatorial hopeful Dan Proft.

Fines from the State Board of Elections will be forthcoming for delinquent candidates and committees, but monetary penalties aside, these candidates should recognize that they should file because it's the right thing to so. The public has a right to know who is funding campaigns for the basic reason that campaign finance all too often influences public policy. Disclosure, long considered the best disinfectant, is to alert the public to conflicts of interest that officials face when serving the public. Disclosure is to assure constituents that their interests are more important than the interests of contributors.

And so we urge all committees to fulfill their legal obligations and file timely reports. And we note -- these were the last reports to be due on the 20th day of the month. For decades, reports were due by the end of the month; when the March Primary Election was bumped up to become the February Primary Election, the due date was moved up from the 31st to the 20th. And now, with quarterly reports, the due date is again moving up. The next reports, covering the first quarter of 2011, will be due on April 15. If you know anyone who files these reports, be sure they know to file on time.

Update: Dan Proft filed earlier today, on paper. His report shows a single contribution of $500,000 on December 28, from Richard Uihlein, who had previously given Proft $165K. Needless to say, this report should have been filed electronically. That contribution is $495K more than Uihlein could have given Proft at a time four days later.