Senate Committee Considers Mortgage Disclosure for Congress
Congress itself may soon face stricter requirements for transparency and disclosure of personal financial information. Senators Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) introduced legislation late last week that would force members of Congress to disclose mortgage information. A “full and complete” disclosure of residential mortgages includes the date the mortgage was entered, the range of the amount, the interest rate, the term and the creditor’s name and address. “Transparency is the key to accountability in government. We must continually revisit ethics in government, and strengthening our disclosure rules takes an important step forward,” Boxer, who chairs the US Select Committee on Ethics, said in a statement. The introduction follows letters sent to senators Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) and Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) from the Ethics Committee, dismissing complaints that they received special mortgages from Countrywide Financial. The dismissal wraps up a long year of controversy over special mortgage loans the senators were alleged to have received. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) made the initial complaint in June 2008, when HousingWire first reported the claims, but after a year-long investigation the committee found no violation of the Senate Gifts Rule, according the letters. “Since my first year in Congress, I have always disclosed my home ownership and the mortgages against my home. It’s the right thing to do and I believe it should be required of all members of Congress,” Isakson, vice-chairman of the Committee on Ethics said in a release. Write to Jon Prior.