Bill would add to list of business disclosures candidates, lawmakers have to file
MARYLAND – Transparency is the name of the game when it comes a bill making its way through the Maryland General Assembly. House Bill 1058 would require elected officials and candidates to make more information about their business dealings public. Local leaders say transparency is always key, and this bill will only open more doors to make that possible. “I think it is important, and I think it’s easy to comply. Any time transparency’s asked for, it’s easy to sit down and work through this,” said Delegate Chris Adams.
Plus, the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Comptroller, Attorney General, and Treasurer would have to file those additional disclosures next year. “I think it’s important, especially for those higher offices, we know the business ties to that person so it may help you understand the motivation behind the direction something is going,” said Delegate Wayne Hartman.
Both Delegates Adams and Hartman are business owners themselves. Del. Hartman says having experience in business dealings can be beneficial for many politicians. “When you sign the front of a paycheck, it’s much different than signing the back of a paycheck,” said Del. Hartman.
Del. Adams says, currently, elected officials must disclose certain information that has to do with their finances. “Legislators must disclose personal property, attributable interests, what our day job is, whether they connect at all with state government, whether there’s any benefit financially that could be derived, and any gifts they receive,” said Del. Adams.
Del. Hartman says he also supports the bill. “I think it’s important that we have full transparency and we know comfortably there’s nothing going on,” said Del. Hartman.
But, Del. Hartman says having to disclose the fine details of business dealings might deter some from running for office. “It’s certainly putting a lot of information out there. With the internet, I think there’s already a lot of information out there, but it’s not handed to someone on a platter,” said Del. Hartmnan.
Del. Adams tells 47ABC even with that concern in mind, transparency from elected officials is always the highest priority. “The minute you go into the public eye, it changes immediately and everyone should know what the roles are going in. If we’ve added to or augmented those policies, then so be it,” said Del. Adams.
Del. Hartman agrees, and says honesty is crucial, especially when battling corruption in politics. “Unfortunately there’s a fairly consistent history of that. So, anything we can do to stop that and make things more transparent and have full disclosure up front, I support,” said Del. Hartman.
The bill passed the House unanimously. The next step will be for the Senate to review it, and eventually vote on it if it gets to that point. The Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on the measure on Thursday.