Bipartisan House Bill Would Set New Requirements for Presidents, VPs to Disclose Taxes, Foreign Profits, Gifts

The so-called Presidential Ethics Reform Act seeks to increase transparency in U.S. executive office.

House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) and Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) announced a bipartisan proposal to set new standards for how U.S. presidents and vice presidents disclose their tax information.

The bill—dubbed the “Presidential Ethics Reform Act”—would require presidents and vice presidents to disclose their tax returns, as well as various foreign payments, gifts of more than $10,000 in value, and loans they’ve taken for the two years before entering the White House, during their time in office, and the two years after they leave office.

Some presidential candidates in recent history have made it a point to disclose some of their tax records before entering office.

This bill states that presidents and vice presidents must, within 30 days of assuming office, disclose their tax returns and financial records for the two prior years, making disclosure an automatic requirement, at least for presidential candidates who win an election.

The bipartisan bill also extends financial reporting requirements to family members of presidents and vice presidents.

The legislation states family members must also report gifts of more than $10,000, non-commercial loans, and foreign payments and file disclosures for potential conflicts of interest that may arise from their familial ties.

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Under the bill, presidents and vice presidents must also disclose when a family member, other than a minor child, accompanies them on official travel.

They must additionally provide an official statement as to why that family member was accompanying them on the official trip, including when they do so for business-related purposes, and provide a list of the events and meetings the family member attended with the U.S. official.

“By creating this bipartisan legislation to provide greater transparency to the financial interactions related to the office of the president and vice-president, we can ensure that moving forward American presidents, vice presidents, and their family members cannot profit from their proximity to power,” Mr. Comer said in a Wednesday press statement announcing the new bill.

Bipartisan Bill Overlaps With Political Investigations

The bill comes as Republicans are actively investigating President Joe Biden, on allegations he used his position as vice president to help his family navigate and close lucrative business deals, including deals with foreign companies in China, Ukraine, Romania, Russia, and Kazakhstan.

The Republican investigation has focused on suspicious bank activity reports involving members of the Biden family and payments flowing from members of the Biden family to Joe Biden, which Republicans have alleged indicate those family members cutting the now president in on their business profits.

The Republican investigation has also noted instances in which President Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, accompanied him on official travel, including at least one flight aboard Air Force Two to China in December of 2013 while he was vice president.

Republicans alleged the then-vice president and Hunter Biden allegedly met with Hunter Biden’s business partners on the board of the Bohai Harvest RST Equity Investment Fund Management Co., Ltd. (BHR); an investment fund controlled by the Bank of China, during that trip.
Democrats in Congress similarly scrutinized former President Donald Trump and his family’s business dealings during his time in office. Democrats have looked at the Trump Organization’s various hotels and resorts both in the U.S. and around the world as a potential avenue for foreign powers to gain influence over his presidency.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) argued in a July 2019 House speech that President Trump treated his 2016 campaign as “the greatest infomercial in history” and welcomed ties with the Russian government as a way to advance potentially lucrative real estate projects in Russia.
Last year, House Oversight Committee Ranking Member Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) called for President Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to answer for payments he has reportedly received from Saudi Arabia and other Arabian Gulf monarchies and whether these deals overlapped with his work in the Trump administration.

While the disclosure requirements in this new bill touch on areas of concern both Democrats and Republicans have raised with their respective political opponents, neither of the bill’s bipartisan co-sponsors directly mentioned any past political investigations.

“By boosting transparency and requiring additional financial disclosures, Congress can shine a light on improper conduct in the Executive Branch—or be confident that none occurred,” Ms. Porter said Wednesday. “These reforms will help restore Americans’ trust in government and strengthen our democracy.”

Original News Source Link – Epoch Times

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