U.S. Reps. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) and Dusty Johnson (R-SD) introduced legislation requiring Congress members to file their public financial disclosures electronically.
Currently, members of both the House and Senate have the option of completing their public financial disclosures either by hand or electronically. However, the current disclosure system leads to too much illegible paperwork filed by members of Congress in their financial disclosures.
The Easy to Read Electronic and Accessible Disclosures (READ) Act would modernize this system, increase transparency, and do a better job of holding elected officials accountable.
“Poor penmanship shouldn’t be the enemy of transparency. As discussions about potential conflicts of interest in the halls of Congress continue, we need to take commonsense steps to make it easier for the general public to sort through the disclosures of their Representatives and Senators,” Spanberger said. “Our Easy to READ Act does just that: it would allow the American people to search, sort, and download data for every Member of Congress — not just those who chose to use a computer to submit these documents. By making this change, we can increase transparency and help rebuild a degree of trust in our democracy. I want to thank my friend and colleague Congressman Johnson for his partnership on this important legislation.”
The bill would also require that the interface for this new system be fully compliant with the Rehabilitation Act and the most recent Web Content Accessibility Guidelines so that disclosures are accessible for Americans with disabilities.
“This bill is commonsense,” Johnson said. “Requiring these disclosures to be made electronically will not only modernize Congress but increase transparency and accountability of Members to the American people. Congress has a public trust problem, and we should do all we can to ensure our constituents have faith in their elected officials. I am glad to work with Congresswoman Spanberger on yet another effort to ensure Members are held to the highest ethical standard during their time in office.”
The bipartisan bill is endorsed by the Project On Government Oversight (POGO), Public Citizen, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), Taxpayers Protection Alliance, FreedomWorks, and National Taxpayers Union.
“Government is only as effective as it is open and accessible,” said Dylan Hedtler-Gaudette, government affairs manager, Project On Government Oversight (POGO). “This means that government records, including financial disclosures filed by elected officials, must be easy to find and easy to understand. This is why Rep. Spanberger and Rep. Johnson should be applauded for introducing a bill that would require congressional financial disclosures to be filed in accordance with basic 21st Century digital and technological standards. These requirements will help bring critical transparency to the financial situation of members of Congress and more opportunity to spot potential conflicts of interest.”