National Journal reported today that the House Ethics Committee quietly scrapped “decades of precedent” requiring Members of the House of Representatives and certain senior staff to disclose privately funded travel on annual financial disclosure forms.
Despite this change, travel costs still must be disclosed. Under the current House travel rules, Members of the House and all House staff must file a post-travel disclosure form with the House Ethics Committee within 15 days of their return from a privately funded trip. The completed forms are publicly available on the House Clerk’s website. These disclosure forms provide details regarding the cost, purpose, and sponsor of the trip.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the House Ethics Committee’s logic for eliminating the trip information on the annual financial disclosure is that the information is simply redundant; the information is on the post-travel disclosure forms. Regardless of the logic, privately funded travel for Members of Congress and congressional staff continues to be a hot topic of public scrutiny.