Last month, after Portfolio revealed that Sens. Chris Dodd and Kent Conrad received favorable loan deals from mortgage giant Countrywide, members of the Senate Ethics Committee attempted to attach an amendment to housing relief legislation that would require the disclosure of mortgages and their details for members of Congress in their annual personal financial disclosure reports. The amendment was ruled non-germane and was dropped from consideration.
In the House, Rep. Mark Souder is keeping the disclosure flame alive, introducing a bill to require mortgage disclosure on personal financial disclosure reports. Souder’s bill would mandate the disclosure of home mortgages including the name of the creditor, the interest rate on payments, the number of years remaining, and the amount of the mortgage.
This is a good step in providing more detailed and accurate information on personal financial disclosure reports, and certainly a proper response to the Countrywide revelations. Congress should take this issue seriously and aim to adopt the transparency reforms in Souder’s bill.
For further steps on clarifying and furthering disclosure in personal financial disclosures, you can see Ellen Miller’s Op-Ed in Roll Call (no subscription needed this time) from a few weeks ago.