Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Iona, is proposing a very basic personal financial disclosure requirement for Idaho officials, based on what’s already required for state legislators in Utah. “I think we are charged with coming up with something on this committee,” he told the Legislature’s ethics and campaign finance reform work group today, noting that he’d handed out copies of a version of the Utah House’s 2014 Conflict of Interest & Financial Disclosure form.
“People are looking for us to come up with some way that legislators have to declare what they do otherwise outside the Legislature, to try to eliminate any conflicts of interest as best we can,” Loertscher said. “This is probably the most innocent thing that I’ve seen. It’s not a lot, but it at least lets people know what we do for a living, and how that might affect our actions in the Legislature.”
The form requires lawmakers to disclose their primary employer and occupation or job title; all entities they own or for which they’re an officer; each entity that has paid them $5,000 or more in income in the past year; each entity in which they own stocks or bonds valued at more than $5,000, unless they’re managed by a third party; any boards on which they serve; real property they own that could create a conflict of interest; and their spouse’s name, occupation and employer.
“It’s not terribly invasive,” Loertscher said “It’s not a lot, but it is something I think moves the bar a little.” And because potential conflicts of interest then would be a matter of public record, he said, there might be fewer times that lawmakers would need to declare potential conflicts as they’re voting on bills.
Idaho currently is one of just two states with no personal financial disclosure requirements for state legislators or any other elected or appointed officials.
Sen. Patti Anne Lodge, R-Huston, encouraged the panel members to look over Loertscher’s handout, and said the group can address the issue at its next meeting in October.
Members of the panel also received copies of a letter from retired Idaho Supreme Court Justice Jim Jones encouraging them to consider closing various loopholes in Idaho’s campaign finance reporting requirements, and creating a Political and Campaign Finance and Ethics Commission, as proposed in 1998 legislation that never advanced. “This endeavor to bring more transparency and honesty to the election process is a worthy one, and I wish you success,” Jones wrote.