Carper, Coons Reintroduce Bill to Require All U.S. Presidents, Vice Presidents to Fully Divest Financial Conflicts of Interests
Mar 27 2019
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons (both D-Del.) joined Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and 25 of their Senate colleagues to reintroduce the Presidential Conflicts of Interest Act, a bill that would require the President and Vice President to disclose and divest any potential financial conflicts of interest. It also would require presidential appointees to recuse themselves from any specific matters involving the president's financial conflicts of interest that come before their agencies.
The For the People Act (H.R.1), landmark legislation to strengthen federal ethics laws that already passed the House, included similar provisions to require the President and Vice President to divest their financial interests.
Currently, presidents and vice presidents are exempt from many federal financial conflicts of interest laws, but, for decades, presidents have addressed concerns regarding foreign and domestic conflicts of interest by divesting their financial interests and placing them in a true blind trust or the equivalent. To ensure compliance with the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause, the bill would codify this longstanding practice by:
- Requiring the President, Vice President, their spouses, and minor or dependent children to divest all interests that create financial conflicts of interest by placing those assets in a true blind trust, which would be managed by an independent trustee who would oversee the sale of assets and place the proceeds in conflict-free holdings;
- Adopting a sense of the Congress that the President’s violation of financial conflicts of interest laws or the ethics requirements that apply to executive branch employees constitute a high crime or misdemeanor under the impeachment clause of the U.S. Constitution; and
- Prohibiting presidential appointees from participating in matters that directly involve the financial interests of the president.
“The American people deserve to know that the President and Vice President of the United States are working in the best interest of the American people,” said Senator Carper. “It’s just common sense that individuals serving in the highest offices in our land should be required to disclose any potential financial conflicts of interest to the public. I’m proud to reintroduce this bill that would strengthen transparency and accountability in the Executive Branch and, hopefully, help to restore the American people’s trust in their federal government at a time when there’s much uncertainty around the current administration’s potential conflicts of interest.”
“The American people deserve to know that our current President and Vice President – and every future President and Vice President – aren’t beholden to any financial conflicts of interest,” said Senator Coons. “To put it bluntly, we deserve to know, with certainty, that our leaders aren’t thinking about their own bank accounts when making decisions for the entire country. This legislation would make sure that at the highest levels of government, our leaders are putting our country’s interests first, not their own.”
“Corruption has always been the central stain of this presidency,” said Senator Warren. “This bill would force President Trump to fully divest from the same Trump properties and assets that special interests have spent two-plus years patronizing to try and curry favor with this administration – all while lining the President’s pockets.”
Joining Senators Carper, Coons and Warren in cosponsoring the Presidential Conflicts of Interest Act are Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Michael F. Bennet (D-Colo.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Cory A. Booker (D-N.J.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.), Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-Pa.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Kirsten E. Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii), Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Christopher Murphy (D-Conn.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Gary C. Peters (D-Mich.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).
Full text of the legislation can be found here.