Turner’s Ethics Measures Aimed at Increasing Transparency By Elected Officials Moving Through Legislative Process

Bills reforming candidate/PAC reporting, expanding personal financial statements and improving access to state agencies heard this week in House committees; Measures join “double-dipping” ban to round out Turner’s transparency and ethics legislative package

AUSTIN − This week, state Representative Chris Turner presented three measures before House committees, all of which would increase ethics and transparency in state government. These bills join HB 408 to round out Turner’s ethics and transparency legislative package; that bill would ban so-called “double dipping” by state elected officials and passed unanimously from the House Committee on Pensions.

HB 1059 would expand the information required on Personal Financial Statements (PFS), filed by candidates and elected officials. Specifically, the measure would require filers to give a more accurate picture of their finances, including whether or not they receive income from a pension plan. The bill would also require the statements to be posted online and available to the general public. HB 1059 was heard today in the House Committee on General Investigating and Ethics.

“Elected officials and those running for office owe it to those they represent or would like to represent to be as open and transparent as possible,” said Turner. “By requiring elected officials to more fully report their sources of income is an important step to ensure that there are no conflicts of interest.”

HB 1787 would make needed improvements to the campaign and PAC financial disclosure system. The measure would clarify how much money remains unspent by an elected official, candidate or a PAC by clarifying how “cash on hand” is calculated. It would also require the filer to list outstanding debts. HB 1787 was heard yesterday in the House Committee on State Affairs.

“Right now, there is a lot of ambiguity in the reporting system and how candidates and political action committees report their finances,” continued Turner. “These rules need to be more clear, especially when it comes to how much money a candidate or committee really has to spend and what debts are owed.”

HB 2368 would require that information about every state contract be posted on the Comptroller of Public Accounts’ website. The information would include the date the contract was signed, the expiration or completion date, a description of the goods, services or purpose of the contract, and the value of the contract. HB 2368 was heard yesterday in the House Committee on Government Transparency and Operation.

“There have been several reports of contract mismanagement by state agencies,” said Turner. “In part, the issues were due to a lack of transparency in the contracting process. It’s past time that we require information from every single state agency contract be posted and available to the public online.”