WASHINGTON — Members of Congress have been required to note privately funded travel in annual personal financial disclosure reports they file publicly — until this year.
The House of Representatives quietly removed the requirement for 2013 reports, but then it was decided to return to the original regulation. National Journal reported the change after discovering the information was missing from the reports that were recently made public. Later Thursday it reported the HouseEthics Committee chairman announced it will reverse itself.
Members of Congress must still report the travel — on other lower-profile disclosure reports — but the change drew criticism from some congressional watchdogs as well as lawmakers who say it weakens transparency and accountability.
The Nevada delegation all committed this week to include privately funded travel on their personal financial disclosure reports.
“This is an example of why the American public is beyond frustrated with Congress: This rule change decreases accountability. The decision should be reversed immediately,” said Rep. Steve Horsford, D-Nev.
Horsford had no privately funded travel to report in 2012 or 2013. If he does in the future, he said he would report it.
Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., also believes the reporting requirement should be restored, according to her spokeswoman Caitlin Teare.
Titus traveled in August to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv on a trip paid for by the American Israeli Education Foundation. Teare said the travel would be included in Titus’s 2014 report.
Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., took a similar trip to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv in 2012. That trip, which was also paid for by the Israeli foundation, was reported on his 2012 personal disclosure report filed in 2013.
Heck did not take any privately funded travel in 2013 but would report future travel as he has in the past, spokesman said.
“Congressman Heck believes members should be required to disclose privately funded travel, has always done so himself, and will continue to do so regardless of the recent rule changes,” said Greg Lemon.
Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., did not take any privately funded trips in 2012 or 2013 and has no plans to do so in 2014. But, if he does in the future his spokesman Brian Baluta said Amodei would follow the old reporting requirements.
“Confirmed. Mark will disclose if he ever takes such a trip,” Baluta said.
Contact Stephens Washington Bureau reporter Peter Urban at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-783-1760.