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Senate may vote Thursday on bill to post feds' financial statements online

Mar. 20, 2012 - 06:00AM   |  
By SEAN REILLY   |   Comments
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., speaks to the media March 20 in Washington, D.C.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., speaks to the media March 20 in Washington, D.C. (T.J. Kirkpatrick / Getty Images)

The Senate plans to vote as early as Thursday to proceed with a House bill that would require the financial disclosure statements of 28,000 senior federal officials and military officers to be public on the Internet.

In a motion filed Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., sought to go forward with Senate approval of the House version of the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act.

In bringing the House bill to a vote, the Senate is rejecting its own version, which would have required online posting of the disclosure reports of at least 3,500 senior officials.

While the bill's main purpose is to ensure that lawmakers and their staffs don't use non-public insider information when dealing in stocks, it also mandates posting the disclosure statements known as Office of Government Ethics (OGE) Form 278 on a public website.

Those required to file the form, including presidential appointees, Senior Executive Service members, and general and flag officers, would fall under the added disclosure requirements, according to a recent analysis by the ethics office.

The annual statements typically are available to the public only in paper form in response to a request. But OGE last week put the disclosure statements of more than 900 presidential appointees and nominees whose positions require Senate confirmation, as well as presidential candidates, on its website.

Open government groups have applauded the idea of wider public access. But the Senior Executives Association, which represents career SES members, has objected that the proposal appears "to be a solution in search of a problem."

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