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Congressman John Sarbanes

Representing the 3rd District of Maryland

Sarbanes Joins Rep. Deutch and Senator Whitehouse to Close Political Conflict of Interest Loophole

Legislation would require Presidential nominees to disclose political contributions or solicitations.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 18, 2017
Contact: Daniel Jacobs
(202) 225-4016

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman John Sarbanes (D-MD) joined Congressman Ted Deutch (D-FL) and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) to introduce legislation in the House and Senate entitled: the Conflicts from Political Fundraising Act. The bill would require Presidential nominees to disclose significant political contributions or solicitations to the Office of Government Ethics, closing a glaring loophole in the appointment vetting process for high ranking government officials.

Under current law, a presidential nominee must disclose their personal financial information to the Office of Government Ethics to highlight and address any potential conflicts of interest in the discharge of their official duties. However, the nominees are not required to release information about their political solicitations or contributions, which may also create conflicts of interest or other ethical abuses. 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.

“Americans of all political stripes expect cabinet officials and other executive branch appointees to be chosen because of their capacity to serve – not because of their political contributions,” said Representative John Sarbanes, Chair of the Democracy Reform Task Force. “Unfortunately, our ethics disclosure system for Presidential nominees is broken. Campaign donors can – and do – easily parlay their political activity into high-profile jobs. Excluding disclosure of campaign giving from the ethics review process leads to massive conflicts of interest and a weakened public trust. I am proud to join Representative Deutch and Senator Whitehouse in introducing the Conflicts from Political Fundraising Act, which would close this senseless loophole and ensure the American people and Congress have all the facts when considering Presidential nominees.”

“Because of the Supreme Court’s disastrous Citizens United decision, big money has too much influence in our elections. That’s why we need to be certain that presidential nominees aren’t going to put their own political interests above the interests of the American people,” said Congressman Deutch. “Under current law, billionaires can anonymously flood our elections with unlimited amounts of money one day and become heads of an agencies the next. We can’t let the failures in our campaign finance laws be compounded by failures in our ethics laws. That’s why we need to close this loophole. Until we overturn Citizens United, the American people won’t be able to place their full trust in the president’s highest-ranking appointees unless they are required to disclose their fundraising activities.”

A fact sheet on the bill can be found here.

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