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Assemblyman Mike Gatto Calls for Greater Transparency and Disclosure for Government Officials

Assemblyman Mike Gatto

Assemblyman Mike Gatto

 

HMG-CN Staff Report

Sacramento, CA – A key reform was introduced by Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Glendale) today – AB 10, which would increase financial-disclosure requirements and modernize the “Form 700 Statement of Economic Interests” used by government officials to report their interests.

Government officials who must file include employees, appointed officials, consultants, candidates running for local elective offices, city clerks, school board trustees, water board members, members of newly created boards and commissions, and employees in newly created positions of existing agencies.

HMG-CN has reported on several politicians who violated the policy by filing false Form 700’s including  Deputy Legislative Secretary Martha Guzman-Aceves who works for California Governor Jerry Brown.

See expose, click here.

The current system mandates officials fill out several “Schedules.”

One asks what stocks, bonds, and other interests the official has in business entities. The schedule simply asks for the name of the business entity and general description of the business.

Another asks what investment income and assets of businesses that they own, again requesting only the name of the business, no contact names.

“Increased transparency is essential to protecting public resources, preventing corruption, and restoring public trust,” said Gatto.  “This legislation will bring disclosure requirements into the 21st century.  These reforms will shed light on business dealings of political insiders and give Californian’s greater access to the information they deserve.”

Concerns over the “Form 700” documents required by the Fair Political Practices Commission were brought to light by the Bay Area News Group, which noted that “California hasn’t significantly updated its financial disclosure laws for elected officials in decades, and the forms that officials must fill out require only the vaguest information… Elected officials also need not disclose exactly what their businesses do or who their partners are.”

Gatto’s legislation would address these concerns by modernizing the Form 700 disclosure document in four specific ways:

(1) Clarifying the reporting ranges for investments, property, and income to be less broad, and more specific, providing tax payers a better picture of the financial interests of an elected official;

(2) Requiring elected officials to disclose who their business partners are;

(3) Requiring elected officials to disclose what exactly their businesses do; and

(4) Requiring elected officials to report the number of times they excused themselves from a vote because of a conflict of interest.

“AB 10 will increase transparency by making the financial disclosure of elected officials more clear and comprehensive,” said Gatto.

 

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