Gov Career

By Phil Piemonte

Blog archive

Lawmakers’ financial records available online (for the curious)

[Editor's note: This posting has been changed to add an additional information source.]

This blog sure does witness a lot of carping about members of Congress, and it would be near impossible—especially since the pay freeze took effect—to tally the number of times posts here have suggested that lawmakers freeze, cut or eliminate their own salaries.

Well, now that the STOCK Act requires these folks to make their financial information available on the Internet, readers can get a look at their investments and see how large a role salary actually plays for many of these lawmakers.

The new requirement is only one part of the larger act which, most importantly, makes it illegal for members of Congress to trade on information they acquired in an official capacity. The Internet posting provision adds a bit of transparency, if nothing else.

The curious will need more than a bit of patience to wade through the filings, however. A lot of the material consists of scanned-in reports that appear on computer monitors sideways, upside down or partially cut off, requiring them to be printed out.

As has been mentioned here before, one already can get a pretty good picture of where members of Congress stand financially by using online resources established by organizations that make it a point to follow the money in politics, like the Center for Responsive Politics, or the Sunlight Foundation (check out their Projects section to see some pretty interesting use of technology in politics).

Also of note is a recent Washington Post series on the subject, Capitol Assets, which includes one of the most detailed breakdowns of congressional wealth we've come across.

Intrepid research types also can access the original filings at the Senate site, which currently has one year of records, and the House site, which has five.

Posted by Phil Piemonte on Oct 05, 2012 at 4:02 PM

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