Carper Pushes Bill to Hold All Presidential Candidates to Higher Ethical Standards
Legislation builds on Carper’s successful, bipartisan efforts in 2016 and helps to ensure conflicts of interest are addressed prior to election
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), a senior member of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs (HSGAC), pushed to pass an amendment that would hold all future presidential candidates – regardless of political affiliation – to higher ethical standards before and after they are elected to our nation’s highest office.
During a business meeting in the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee this morning, Senator Carper offered his bill, the Transition Team Ethics Improvement Act, as an amendment to a bill introduced by Chairman Johnson (R-Wis.). Senator Carper’s common sense bill would require presidential candidates to provide additional transparency during the presidential transition process by disclosing conflicts of interest before an election and developing ethics plans for their transition teams. In addition, Senator Carper’s legislation would improve congressional oversight for transition team members who are given non-public access to federal agencies or those granted security clearances.
This legislation builds on the successful, bipartisan work Senator Carper spearheaded when he passed landmark legislation that helps to ensure a smooth transition into the executive office. The Edward “Ted” Kaufman and Michael Leavitt Presidential Transitions Improvements Act, which was signed into law in 2016, ensures that presidential candidates can navigate the transition process and manage a smooth transition into the executive office.
Senator Carper called on his colleagues to support the Transition Team Ethics Improvement Act, which is supported by bipartisan ethics experts from both the Obama and Bush Administrations and former Senator Ted Kaufman. Ultimately, the Republican majority on the committee voted down Senator Carper’s legislation.
The full text of Senator Carper’s remarks are available below:
“Mr. Chairman, thank you for bringing this legislation to a markup and for your work on improving the presidential transition process over the years. Two years ago, we worked together to pass the Ted Kaufman and Michael Leavitt Presidential Transitions Improvement Act. That bill laid the foundation for the most recent presidential transition and ensured that there was a process in place to provide the new administration with the resources it needed to hit the ground running.
“However, what we didn’t envision at that time was an Administration coming into power with a blatant disregard for the ethical norms that have guided previous administrations. We also didn’t envision a presidential candidate who would refuse to disclose how he would deal with his own conflicts of interest.
“Senator Warren and I asked the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to review the most recent presidential transition. As part of their review, the GAO identified serious ethical lapses during the most recent presidential transition. To address these issues, and to elevate ethics as a central tenet of a new administration, we drafted the Transition Team Ethics Improvement Act which has been filed as an amendment to your presidential transition bill. The bill will provide more accountability and transparency in presidential transitions by requiring presidential candidates to disclose how they will address their own conflicts of interest before the election and by requiring those candidates to develop and publicly release ethics plans for their transition teams.
“The bill also includes requirements for transition team members that are given non-public access to federal agencies and will improve Congressional oversight for those who are granted security clearances. The bill is supported by bipartisan ethics experts from both the Obama and Bush Administrations as well as former Senator Ted Kaufman. For those reasons, I urge my colleagues to support this amendment.”