GOP lawmaker overseeing Rangel trial has also failed to disclose assets

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According to Roll Call, Rep. Michael McCaul did not properly report dozens of stock transactions on both his 2008 and 2009 personal financial disclosure forms.

McCaul is the ranking Republican member on the ethics subcommittee trying Rep. Charlie Rangel, among many other things, failing to report certain assets on his own personal financial disclosure forms.

The problem here may not be the individual actions of either lawmaker–barring the outcome of the trial of Rep. Rangel–but rather the fault of the both the rules themselves and the enforcing body, the ethics committee.

Personal financial disclosure rules are hardly complete and many members take advantage of this by not reporting their assets or stock transactions properly. I wrote about this earlier this year and said, “When the [personal financial] disclosure documents are released [perusing through them is] like finding an incomplete artifact at an archaeological dig. If anything, these incomplete rules create more suspicion about lawmakers, not less, as they were intended to do.” (Here are some suggestions to fix these disclosure documents.)

Even worse, perhaps, is that the ethics committee, the body in charge of the oversight of these documents, does not properly police them for proper disclosure. This task often falls to reporters at publications like Roll Call or here at the Sunlight Foundation. Last year my colleague Bill Allison found 28 instances of incorrect reporting totaling between $239,026 and $831,000 in Rep. Rangel’s financial disclosures going back to 1978. An ethics committee that was actually paying attention should have caught something like that.

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