Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., and Rep. Dusty Johnson, R-S.D., on Tuesday introduced a bill that would require members of Congress to file financial disclosures electronically, according to Business Insider.
The Easy to Read Electronic and Accessible Disclosures (READ) Act would permit users to search, sort and download financial disclosure data filed by both members of Congress and candidates for the House or Senate, with the goal of boosting transparency amid a broader discussion about banning stock trading.
Currently, members are permitted to hand in their yearly financial disclosures on a paper form, which has meant disclosures that are often extremely difficult to read.
"Poor penmanship shouldn't be the enemy of transparency," Spanberger said in a news release. "By making this change, we can increase transparency and help rebuild a degree of trust in our democracy."
Johnson said in the release that "this bill is commonsense. Congress has a public trust problem, and we should do all we can to ensure our constituents have faith in their elected officials."
Outside advocacy groups on both the right and left have endorsed the bill, including the Project On Government Oversight, Public Citizen, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Taxpayers Protection Alliance, National Taxpayers Union and FreedomWorks, according to Business Insider.
"Government is only as effective as it is open and accessible," said Dylan Hedtler-Gaudette, a government affairs manager at POGO. "This means that government records, including financial disclosures filed by elected officials, must be easy to find and easy to understand."
Hedtler-Gaudette added that "these requirements will help bring critical transparency to the financial situation of members of Congress and more opportunity to spot potential conflicts of interest."
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