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Eye On Olympia

Thu., July 19, 2007, 11:40 a.m.

Washington gets an “A” for transparency of officials’ personal finances (Idaho’s score: 0)….

Some trivia about Gov. Chris Gregoire:

-She and her husband own a cabin on Hayden Lake, Idaho, a home (besides the governor's mansion) in Olympia, and a time-share condo at a Whistler, B.C. ski lodge.
-She has a $200 hand-carved wooden canoe (presumably a miniature one) given to her by the chairman of the Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe.
-From the Tulalips, she's received a beaded necklace and a hand-carved wooden mask, the latter valued at $650.
-In addition to their state investment plans, she and her husband favor low-cost Vanguard funds.

How do we know these things? Because for years, Washingtonians have required candidates for major -- and often minor -- political offices to file out an "F-1" financial disclosure form.

The document -- one of the most widely resisted by political newcomers, judging by Public Disclosure Commission enforcement cases -- details a candidate's real estate holdings, bank accounts, investments, other income, official gifts and travel. Parts of the form include spouses or even children. Although controversial, its intended to help identify potential conflicts of interest or even bribes -- a new plush job on the side, a debt that suddenly disappears, that sort of thing.

On Thursday, the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Public Integrity awarded Washington the highest grade of any state for it's disclosure laws involving governors. Four states, including the Gem State, tied for last place.

The group's "States of Disclosure" project includes a state-by-state collection of the financial disclosure forms filed by statewide elected officials, state lawmakers and judges.

The group's finding, after six months of record requests:

"21 states failed to make available basic information about the private financial interests of their governors. This considerable gap is most evident when comparisons are made to the state of Washington, which provides the most complete public information on its governor's personal income, and Idaho, Michigan, Utah and Vermont, which do not require their governors to file financial disclosure reports at all."

As for judges, 47 states (but not Idaho, Montana and Utah) require judges to report non-judicial earnings.

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