Linda Sánchez Introduces Presidential Ethics Legislation
Washington, DC – Representative Linda Sánchez (CA-38), Vice Chair of the House Democratic Caucus, today introduced two new pieces of legislation, the FAIR Act and RIGGED Act, which will strengthen existing anti-nepotism laws and bring the financial disclosure process for the President into conformity with Members of Congress:
“The American people should be confident that when the President makes decisions he is putting the interests of the United States of America first, not his bank account,” said Rep. Linda Sánchez. “That is why I have introduced a presidential ethics package which will strengthen our existing anti-nepotism laws and ensure the President of the United States is held to the same financial disclosure standards as Members of Congress. Transparency and accountability should not be the first victims of the Trump administration.”
“Our Founding Fathers wanted every person to be accountable under the law, including the President. President-elect Donald Trump is challenging the fundamental checks and balances of our Constitution in a way not seen since President Nixon,” continued Rep. Sánchez. “Mr. Trump’s personal and financial entanglements along with his mountain of conflicts of interest pose a serious threat to the integrity of the Office of the President. President-elect Trump’s extensive foreign financial interests go beyond that of any previous office holder and we must update our laws to protect the credibility of our democracy.”
Financial Accountability in Reporting (FAIR) Act:
The FAIR Act would clarify the Ethics in Government Act (EIGA) to ensure that the President is held to the same financial disclosure standards as Members of Congress and their senior staff. Newly elected Presidents have historically filed financial disclosures in their first year in office, just as Members of Congress do. However, the President-elect has refused to confirm that he will play by the same rules or observe the same traditions as his predecessors. Under the current interpretation of the EIGA, the President-elect could conceivably refuse to file a financial disclosure until August 2018 — almost half way into his first term — while newly elected Members of Congress and new senior staff are required to file by May 15th of this year. This bill would guarantee that Presidents follow longstanding norms of public disclosure and transparency.
Relatives in Government Getting Employment Dishonorably (RIGGED) Act:
The RIGGED Act will provide accountability and oversight by updating federal anti-nepotism laws to ensure that the President cannot hire his relative as an advisor. Specifically, this bill will clarify that the term “agency” applies to any position in the White House or Executive Office of the President. In addition, this bill will clarify that if a relative is hired, no money can be used from the Treasury as salary or expense.
For example, currently a federal employee (including elected officials) cannot use funds from the Treasury to enrich a relative. However, that would seem to allow the hiring of a relative so long as the relative forgoes pay. This provision tightens the language to say, even if a relative is hired, funds cannot be used to aid them in doing their job; effectively making performance of their responsibilities impossible. Finally, this bill broadens the language defining a civilian position to mean any existing or newly created position, including a person acting in a professional or official capacity, regardless of whether the position is voluntary or gratuitous, or authorized by law to be compensated.