Miller should join Ryan in real-time campaign finance reporting

This letter appeared in the September 3, 2010 edition of the Georgetown Times:

Just a few weeks ago Republican State House candidate Kevin Ryan did something that to my knowledge no other candidate in South Carolina has done — he started reporting his campaign contributions and expenditures in real-time.

He’s posting records of all contributions and expenditures online within 24-hours of receiving or expending the funds. He also pledged to introduce legislation that would require real-time reporting of campaign financial information for all candidates.

Ryan is even reporting all donors, even if their contribution is below the $100 threshold for reporting under state law.

Ryan’s embrace of campaign transparency is very refreshing. He’s to be commended for his commitment to the voters in Georgetown and Charleston counties that they will know who backs his campaign as soon as the check comes in- not once every quarter as currently required under state law.

Since Ryan’s announcement I’ve been looking at his daily online reporting at

From it I’ve learned that, to date for the election cycle, he has received 65 campaign contributions from individuals, most of which appear to be from Georgetown County, plus a contribution from Mitt Romney’s PAC.

Of those contributions, 47 have been received since the June 30 state quarterly reporting period closed. If Ryan had chosen to simply adhere to state reporting laws, voters would not know anything about these 47 contributions until Oct. 10 when campaign finance reports are due for the quarter ending on Sept. 30.

Ryan has called on his opponent, incumbent Democratic Rep. Vida Miller, to post her campaign finance information online in real-time. So far Miller has refused real-time reporting.

What do we know about who’s backing Miller’s reelection? Well since June 30 nothing.

All voters can do is look at her past quarterly reports posted on the state Ethics Commission Web site at

For the election cycle through June 30, Miller has received a total of 54 contributions — 41 from corporations or PACs and 13 from individuals. Only two of the corporate and nine of the individual contributions came from either Georgetown or Charleston counties. None of the PAC contributions originated from either county.

One way to look at the financing of Miller’s re-election campaign is that a sitting state Representative has managed to gain the financial support of just two businesses and nine people from the two counties she represents in the nearly two-year period since the last election.

What’s evident is that Ryan is likely to overwhelming win in the number of grassroots financial contributions from people within the legislative district. The question is what will be the effect of the substantial outside special interest money backing 14-year incumbent Miller in this election?

Miller has already been forced to return a contribution from an HMO that violated the limits set by state law.

The past reports show that money from HMOs, Jim Clyburn’s PAC, trial lawyers, payday lenders, banks, and drug companies, among others, have primarily funded Miller’s re-election effort — not her constituents.

Perhaps that’s really at the heart of why Miller’s not enthusiastic about reporting who’s sending her money in real-time.

Miller says she’s for “clean elections” and has in fact sponsored legislation under that name that would force taxpayers to fund the election campaigns of politicians running for state office by giving those politicians taxpayer funded debit cards to pay for their campaign expenses- an incredibly bad idea and waste of our taxes.

The best way to have “clean elections” is for Miller to join Kevin Ryan in using the sunshine of complete real-time campaign finance disclosure as a disinfectant.

Susan M. Reddy
Pawleys Island