Ethics Bill Calls for Legislators' Financial Reports to Be Put Online

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), February 7, 2012 | Go to article overview

Ethics Bill Calls for Legislators' Financial Reports to Be Put Online


Byline: David Hill, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

ANNAPOLIS -- A special Senate panel charged with revamping the state's ethics laws is expected to introduce a bill this week detailing its recommendations.

Senate Special Committee on Ethics Reform Chairman Jamin B. Raskin said he will submit a bill before Friday that would make state lawmakers' financial disclosures available online and require thousands of other officials to file their disclosures electronically.

Mr. Raskin, Montgomery Democrat, said making officials' disclosures more readily available will increase transparency and make the public more involved and officials more accountable.

If disclosure is going to be real, then we need to have a fully sunlit opportunity for inspection, he said. If we can get this legislation through, we would be an ethical model for the rest of the nation.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. appointed the seven-member committee last month, and its formation was owed heavily to the trial of Sen. Ulysses Currie, who was acquitted in November of charges that he took nearly $250,000 from a grocery chain in exchange for political influence.

Mr. Currie, Prince George's Democrat, reported the income on tax returns and insisted he was working as a legitimate consultant for the grocer but acknowledged he made an ethical misstep by not reporting his work to the State Ethics Commission.

The Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics will decide his fate this session and could recommend penalties ranging from reprimand to expulsion.

State ethics laws now require that lawmakers file annual forms disclosing any potential conflicts that they, a spouse or live-in child may have.

Potential conflicts include the lawmaker or a family member working for a state or local agency. Lawmakers also must disclose if they or immediate family members own more than $25,000 in stock or a 10 percent share of a corporation. …

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