What Congressional Disclosure Forms Won’t Reveal

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Abandoned properties await renovation in Cincinnati's Over-the-Rhine neighborhood.

The House and Senate looked at the same new ethics law and came up with two interpretations of what it requires.

As a result, the residential mortgage disclosures being made public this week won’t produce enough data about House members to identify any sweetheart rates like those Countrywide Financial used to give to VIPs.

Bill Allison, editorial director for the Sunlight Foundation, a Washington-based group that promotes increased disclosures in government, said the House approach “kind of defeats the whole purpose of the act.”

Each senator has been told to reveal the name of their home mortgage lender; whether it’s a mortgage, refinance, home equity loan or line of credit; the date of the loan; interest rate and discount points; term of the loan; and its value within a broad range.

In the House, the Ethics Committee told members the law requires less disclosure: just the creditor, type of loan, date incurred and amount. That’s the same information already required for mortgages on rental properties.

The forms were due last month and are to be publicly released on Thursday.

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