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JAYAPAL, CLARK INTRODUCE BILL TO REQUIRE PRESIDENT AND VICE PRESIDENT TO FULLY DIVEST PERSONAL FINANCIAL CONFLICTS OF INTEREST

Washington, DC – Today, Co-Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal and Democratic Caucus Vice Chair Congresswoman Katherine Clark introduced a bill in the U.S. House that would require the President and Vice President to divest of their financial conflicts of interest.

The Presidential Accountability Actwould also require Presidents and Vice Presidents to disclose their business interests including the name of every person they are in business with and the assets and liabilities of every business in which they have a significant financial interest.

“Every recent president in modern history has taken steps to divest from conflicts of interest while President Trump has ardently fought this basic ethical responsibility,” said Vice Chair Clark. “It’s time the American people know if the President is working on their behalf or if he is lining his own pockets.”

“Public servants need to work for the public, not special interests. Instead of draining the swamp, this administration has drowned themselves in it,” Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal. It’s time to end this culture of corruption by requiring the President and Vice President to divest themselves of any financial conflicts of interests. The Presidential Accountability act is a first step in making sure Washington works for the people again.”

“The need for this legislation has been made manifestly obvious by the numerous ways that Donald Trump has continued to profit as a private citizen from investments and properties while President of the United States,” said Lisa Gilbert, Vice President of Legislative Affairs for Public Citizen. “Passing legislation that requires a divestment of presidential assets to avoid conflicts of interest in policy and personnel is just common sense. We applaud Reps. Clark and Jayapal for taking this important step.”

“Presidents and Vice-Presidents of both parties in the future must be prevented from committing President Trump’s original ethics sin: continuing to own his businesses while in office,” Noah Bookbinder, Executive Director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). This bill represents a substantial step in the right direction, and we look forward to working with Congress to strengthen the bill further as they consider it.”

With this bill, Clark and Jayapal are strengthening the presidential divestiture provision initial included in HR. 1, the For the People Act of 2019. This text will be included in the final ethics reform package. 

Since being sworn into office in January 2017, President Trump has failed to divest from this business dealings, including his ownership of the Trump International Hotel, which is housed in a building leased from the federal government. At least twelve foreign governments, and multiple international and national stakeholders who have business with the U.S. government have utilized the Trump Hotel. The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has identified more than 1,400 conflicts of interest that have arisen in the first two years into the Trump administration. 

In addition to these divestiture and disclosure provisions, H.R. 1 also includes several other provisions from previous pieces of legislation by Representatives Clark and Jayapal including requirements that presidential appointees recuse themselves from matters involving the President’s financial interests, requiring the release of presidential tax returns, and prohibiting the President and Vice President from contracting with the federal government.

Full bill text can be viewed here.

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