Last week at Sunlight, we exposed House Speaker Dennis Hastert’s use of a secret, undisclosed trust to make a $2 million profit selling land located near the proposed route of the Prairie Parkway, a project Hastert has backed with $207 million in earmarks.
There are still 539 congress members and delegates whose disclosure forms haven’t been scrutinized. Want to investigate them, I’ll explain below, and then you can email me if you’re interested (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The House Ethics Manual states, "The objectives of financial disclosure are to inform the public about the financial interests of government officials in order to increase public confidence in the integrity of government and to deter potential conflicts of interest." (The Senate Ethics Manual is similar). On June 14, members of Congerss made public those disclosures. As a public service, the Web site PoliticalMoneyLine.com has put them online. The House disclosure forms start here — and the Senate (all on one page) is here. Go to the site, find your member, download the form, and spend a little time learning about your member’s financial interests.
Are there entries you don’t understand? Are there private companies, partnerships, or trusts for which no public information is available? Are investments in land identified in ways that you can find them on a map?
Inform yourself, and let me know what you find, either by email or by posting information online on your site (and sending us a link) or on ours.
Let’s make sure that we deter potential conflicts of interest by reading their disclosure forms, and making sure they know we’re watching.
Thanks a lot, and I’ll let you know as new projects come up. Of course, if you have suggestions for projects we should pursue, we’re all ears.
Bill Allison, Senior Fellow, Sunlight Foundation