Deutch, Whitehouse Introduce Bill to Close Ethics Loophole of Presidential Nominees
Today, House Ethics Committee Chairman Ted Deutch (FL-22) and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) introduced the Conflicts from Political Fundraising Act, legislation that would close an Executive Branch ethics loophole and require presidential nominees to disclose certain political solicitations or donations.
Currently, a presidential nominee must disclose their personal financial information to the Office of Government Ethics to highlight and address any potential conflicts of interest. However, the nominees are not required to release information about their political solicitations or contributions, which may also create risks or appearance of conflicts of interest. For example, if a nominee asked a corporation for a $1,000,000 contribution to a political action committee before his appointment, they should disclose that and be disqualified from participating in any decisions involving that corporation.
The Conflicts from Political Fundraising Act would require nominees to disclose whether they have solicited or contributed funds for political purposes to 527 political action committees, or tax-exempt groups formed under sections 501(c)(4) or 501(c)(6) of the tax code. A one-pager on the bill can be accessed here.
"When the President nominates people to the highest powers of our government, the public has a right to know whether they have a personal stake in the game that could affect their decision-making," said Congressman Deutch, a Vice Chair of the Democracy Reform Task Force. "Transparency is necessary for the American people to have faith that their government is acting on their behalf and with their interests in mind. Presidential nominees must be held to a high ethical standard, as the American people expect and deserve. This legislation will close an ethical loophole and require the president's highest-ranking appointees to disclose their fundraising activities to the public."
“The American people expect their government to fight for them, not corporations and special interest donors,” said Senator Whitehouse. “The Trump administration is stocked with officials who paved their way to the top with massive political contributions and gobs of dark money. To avoid the thicket of conflicts of interest this administration has become, and to ensure that Americans can trust in their government, we ought to require high-level appointees to disclose their financial and fundraising relationships.”
The Conflicts from Political Fundraising Act was introduced with Representatives John P. Sarbanes (MD-03), the Chair of the Democracy Reform Task Force, Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Hank Johnson (GA-04), Steve Cohen (TN-09), Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40).
The Conflicts from Political Fundraising Act was included in H.R. 1 as part of sweeping reforms to strengthen ethics laws, make it easier to vote, and get money out of American elections.