With her previous proposals seeing little-to-no action in the last GOP-controlled Congress, U.S. Rep. Katherine Clark reintroduced a bill this week that would require presidents to disclose and divest of any financial conflicts of interest.
The Melrose Democrat joined U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Washington, in again offering the “Presidential Accountability Act,”which would amend a 1978 ethics law to mandate that presidents and vice presidents must disclose their business interests, including the name of every person with whom they are in business and the assets and liabilities of every business in which they have a major financial stake.
Clark, the Democratic Caucus’ vice chair, argued that such legislation is needed to address issues raised by President Donald Trump’s refusal to fully divest from his business dealings, including his ownership of a Trump International Hotel housed in a federal government-leased building.
"Every recent president in modern history has taken steps to divest from conflicts of interest while President Trump has ardently fought this basic ethical responsibility,” she said in a statement. “It’s time the American people know if the president is working on their behalf, or if he is lining his own pockets.”
Stressing that “public servants need to work for the public,”Jayapal added that “it’s time to end this culture of corruption by requiring the president and vice president to divest themselves of any financial conflicts of interests.”
“The Presidential Accountability act is a first step in making sure Washington works for the people again,” she said in a statement.
The sponsors said their proposal would build on provisions included in another high-priority bill for House Democrats that would: require presidential appointees to recuse themselves from matters involving the president’s financial interests, mandate that presidents release their tax returns and bar presidents and vice presidents from contracting with the federal government.
Following the 2016 election, Trump’s then-lawyer Michael Cohen announced that the president-elect’s oldest children would run the privately held Trump Organization, which has international and U.S. dealings that include hotels, real estate and golf courses.
Although Cohen reportedly used the term “blind trust” when discussing the financial arrangement, some questioned the characterization, arguing that putting Trump’s children in charge of assets of which their father is aware does not constitute such a trust.
Clark, in response to that pushback, introduced her “Presidential Accountability Act” shortly after the election to require that presidents resolve any conflicts of interest between their financial interests and government responsibilities.
Months later, she introduced a similar bill in the new Congress, entitled the “Presidential Conflicts of Interest Act of 2017.”
That proposal, which would have required presidents and vice presidents to submit a disclosure of their financial interests to Congress and the Office of Government Ethics, among other things, failed to make it out of committee.
Clark’s latest version of the bill, however, could see more success in the 116th Congress, with Democrats in control of the lower chamber.
Original story here.