Ever wonder what outside financial interests a legislator in your state might have? Now you can find out with a couple of clicks of your mouse. Putting the country’s government ethics laws to work, the Center for Public Integrity today made thousands of state legislators’ outside interest disclosure filings available to online users.
Researchers at the Center collected nearly 7,000 personal financial statements state lawmakers submitted in 2004 to oversight agencies in the 47 states requiring disclosure. Three states-Idaho, Michigan and Vermont-do not require disclosure at all. Click on a state below to access the only warehouse of its kind.
A few states had filing deadlines at the end of 2004. Center staff are continuing to upload forms for those states, along with North Dakota, where legislators’ reports are not collected in a central office. Also, South Dakota legislators did not report in 2004. Please contact the Center with any questions.
The Center will collect and post these filings on a rolling basis as reports become available across the country throughout 2005. Find out the deadline for your legislators.
Ranging in size from one page (New Hampshire’s) to 59 pages (Florida’s), these often-overlooked reports can be difficult to obtain. In Maryland, citizens have to drive to the State Ethics Commission’s office in Annapolis to learn more about their lawmakers’ outside ties.
Fortunately, 16 states now make their financial disclosure forms available on the Internet or electronically. Another 31 states require disclosure, but then file the papers away, making them hard to access.
Several states are trying to make their filings more accessible. Since the Center for Public Integrity’s release of “Personal Politics” in September 2004, legislators and staffers from several states, including Georgia and Virginia, have contacted the Center while looking into ways of improving their state’s survey ranking.
In New Jersey a new financial disclosure law went into effect on January 11, improving the state’s ranking from 41st to 13th. The Assembly Majority Office consulted the Center’s survey while developing the new law.
In addition to indicating their sources of income, lawmakers in New Jersey must now report how much they received in both earned and unearned income in four defined categories. Senators and representatives are now also required to disclose all officer and director positions, including that of their spouses, as well as real property ownership and information on personal liabilities. Under the new legislation, New Jersey’s report-card score on the Center’s nationwide survey jumped from 45 to 72, out of 100 possible points.
Michigan-one of the three states that currently has no disclosure requirements at all-has seen some movement. In December 2004, a bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced a bill that would require state legislators to file annual personal financial disclosures. State democratic representative Steve Tobocman, the bill’s primary sponsor, reviewed the Center’s survey of disclosure in the 50 states while developing the bill. Though the proposed legislation expired when the session ended, it will be reintroduced in 2005.
Click on a state below to get a complete list of personal financial disclosure forms submitted by lawmakers in that state. You can also search the Center’s legislative outside interest database.
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