Less information, less open government

We'll give Nevada lawmakers the benefit of the doubt and say they've weakened campaign-expense reporting not because they have something to hide but because they're lazy.

It doesn't really matter, though. The result is less information for the voting public.

The change came as a result of a conference committee sorting out differences between Assembly and Senate versions of a law passed this spring to weaken reporting requirements.

Apparently chafing under Secretary of State Dean Heller's rules, lawmakers decided to limit the amount of information the Secretary of State's Office requires. The result is that candidates will no longer have to report beginning cash totals, interest and income earned on contributions, and the funds on hand at the end of each reporting period.

Those items were useful because they allowed the public to track easily how much money politicians were receiving and spending from one report to the next. We don't want to say the reports are useless without that information, but it will be much easier for someone to disguise large contributions and expenses.

Yes, it takes a bit more work for candidates to actually account for their campaign finances in a regular and accurate manner. The ones with nothing to hide should welcome such disclosures.

In fact, Heller says he'll ask politicians, political parties and political action committees to volunteer the information, even if he can't require it.

Maybe that will be the simplest test for voters - is the candidate interested in open and accountable government, or does he find such matters merely inconvenient?


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