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Rep Speier Introduces Bill to Crack Down on Corruption and Close Political Loopholes

February 7, 2019
Press Release

Washington, DC – Yesterday, Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA) – a member of the House Intelligence and Oversight and Government Reform committees – introduced H.R. 1028, the Restoring Integrity, Governance, Honesty, and Transparency (RIGHT) Act, to ensure that government officials are held to the highest standard.

Specifically, the RIGHT Act builds on H.R. 1 to strengthen long-standing ethical norms and prevent the exploitation of loopholes to safeguard against the efforts of candidates and those elected to the Office of President and Vice President to disregard the law. It has earned the support of nonpartisan organizations including the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) and Public Citizen.

“Over the past two years, unprecedented levels of unethical behavior, nepotism, and misconduct in the Executive Branch poses a clear and present danger to not only our electoral systems but the very foundation of our democracy,” Rep. Speier said. “The abuses and excesses of the President, his family, and his cronies also highlight the inadequacy of the Ethics in Government Act of 1978 (EGA) when it comes to oversight of the Trump presidency. As a strong supporter of H.R. 1, I look forward to working with Congressman Sarbanes and Chairman Cummings to make sure that we close legal loopholes that have been stretched to the breaking point by the Trump Administration.”

“This is an incredibly important piece of legislation. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington is proud to support the RIGHT Act, which will enhance transparency, strengthen enforcement and increase accountability. I’m particularly impressed with the way it targets several key gaps in our framework for government integrity with pinpoint precision and proposes very effective solutions,” said Walter Shaub, Senior Advisor for CREW and former Director of the Office of Government Ethics. “We thank Representative Jackie Speier for her leadership in introducing the bill and look forward to working with Congress on this critical issue.”

“The RIGHT Act sponsored by Congresswoman Speier squarely addresses some of the most troubling shortcomings of today’s ethics laws in the executive branch,” said Craig Holman, Government Affairs Lobbyist at Public Citizen. “There are no clear guidelines nor disclosure requirements for officials soliciting money to pay for legal expenses. This legislation would mandate full disclosure of legal defense funds. There is very little disclosure of taxpayer-funded travel by officials. This legislation would mandate full disclosure of official travel, posted on the Internet. And most importantly government officials, like the president, currently can own private hotels and resorts, and enrich themselves by spending taxpayer dollars for official trips to these private properties. This legislation would put an end to this self-dealing. Public Citizen heartily endorses the RIGHT Act.”

The RIGHT Act would increase transparency and prevent conflicts of interest in the federal government by amending the EGA. This includes:

  • Requiring candidates for the Offices of President and Vice President to provide tax returns for the last 20 years.
  • Closing a loophole in the EGA that allows for donations by anonymous sources to the legal defense fund of a government official.
  • Clarifying that the anti-nepotism statute applies to appointed positions within the Executive Office of the President and the White House and closing a loophole in the existing statute that allows violators to hold office without pay.
  • Increasing accountability and transparency for Hatch Act violations.
  • Creating a disincentive for senior officials to abuse taxpayer-funded travel.
  • Preventing federal officials or their immediate family members from improperly profiting from taxpayer funds.
  • And eliminating the ability of government contractors to donate to presidential inaugural committees.

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