Glitch lifts deadline on campaign e-filing

Candidates for city office, among dozens of other political players, are getting an unexpected two-week reprieve in filing their first-ever electronic versions of campaign finance reports with the city.

The electronic reports were supposed to be filed by the close of business today, under a regulation approved last month by the Philadelphia Board of Ethics. The board is charged with overseeing the city's new campaign finance rules.

However, that regulation has been put on hold, so to speak, until a city vendor can fix a computer glitch that was discovered yesterday. Specifically, the city's computer software did not allow for the addresses of campaign contributors to be saved, which would result in incomplete reports.

"To be fair to everyone, we thought it best to offer this extension to give people sufficient time to comply with the law," said Shane Creamer, interim executive director of the ethics board.

Creamer acknowledged that the new regulation also had caused some confusion among the 150 candidates and political committees that typically file end-of-the-year campaign finance reports. Those reports are due Jan. 31 of each year.

Paper versions - which detail campaign expenditures for 2006 - must still be filed with the Philadelphia Board of Elections by the end of today.

However, Creamer said there would be no penalties for not filing electronically as long as committees registered today with the city's Records Department, which is implementing the new computer software on the ethics board's behalf.

Approved by City Council in 2005, the idea behind requiring electronic reports was to increase transparency in government by making the information accessible to the public online.


Contact staff writer Marcia Gelbart at 215-854-2338 or mgelbart@phillynews.com.