Public Citizen, NAACP, Oxfam, Others Support Enhancing Personal Financial Disclosures for Public Officials
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Legislation introduced today by U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and U.S. Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) would bring public officials’ obscure financial dealings to light, more than a dozen advocacy groups said in a letter sent today to members of Congress.
The legislation would enhance the transparency requirements of financial dealings by public officials, requiring members of Congress and senior executive branch officials, including the president and vice president, to report stock trading transactions in a fully transparent searchable, sortable and downloadable online format under the STOCK Act. Currently, the online database of stock transactions must be searched on a member-by-member basis, which requires 535 individual searches to answer the simple question: Which lawmakers traded stock in the last 60 days?
The legislation would require that these reports be made fully searchable by such criteria as date or amount of transaction to improve the current “painstakingly difficult, if not impossible” process for monitoring such trades, says the letter.
The STOCK Act 2.0 also would require public officials to disclose significant grants or loans received from the federal government on their personal financial disclosure filings. Currently, it is very difficult to track which lawmakers and their spouses received pandemic relief assistance for their own businesses.
Earlier this year, U.S. Sens. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) reportedly dumped stocks after receiving congressional briefings on the coronavirus pandemic but before the market downturn.
“The pandemic illuminates why profiteering and financial conflicts of interest from the public officials who are supposed to protect us must not be tolerated. But in order for there to be accountability, there must be transparency,” said Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist at Public Citizen. “The STOCK Act 2.0 is a critical requirement to prevent potentially corrupting conflicts of interests among public officials, particularly at this moment.”