MacIver Institute Posts Legislators’ Financial Disclosures Online

First in a Series of Transparency Projects for Free Market Think Tank

[Madison, Wisc…] Individuals who want to examine the financial relationships of members of the legislature can now do so anonymously and without having to travel to Madison to obtain the information.

The John K. MacIver Institute for Public Policy has published the Statements of Economic Interest for all 132 state lawmakers online.

“We at the MacIver Institute believe the old notification system has had a chilling effect on the public’s right to know and clouded what was intended to be a promotion of transparency in government,” said MacIver President Brett Healy. “The MacIver Institute has put this information where the public can actually find it, the internet.”

State officials and candidates running for public office file a Statement of Economic Interests with the Government Accountability Board (GAB) every year.  Each report identifies a public official’s financial relationships and those of his or her immediate family.   The idea behind this effort is to make your government transparent by sharing information about employers, investments, real estate, commercial clients, and creditors.

Previously, individuals or groups who wanted to review these records had to travel to Madison and fill out a form identifying themselves.  Included on the form is an acknowledgment that failure to properly identify yourself or your purpose is punishable by up to a $5,000 fine and jail for up to a year.

Using this site, anyone can now look at a scanned copy of the Statement of Economic Interests for all 132 state legislators. Doing so will not trigger a notification to the public official whose records are being examined.

“Last year we launched The MacIver News Service to give Wisconsinites greater access to the individuals and entities whose decisions affect their daily lives,” said Healy. “This year we will be launching several initiatives to increase the transparency of state and local government—today’s launch is only the beginning.”

Among other projects, Healy said the MacIver Institute hopes to add financial information for Governor Doyle and key members of his Administration and the Supreme Court soon.

“The MacIver Institute believes the fundamental right of the public to know basic information about their public servants is too important to let the politicians keep it hidden in a back office somewhere in Madison,” said Healy. “Our work won’t make us popular with some legislators, but as The Free Market Voice for Wisconsin, we have a responsibility to the entire State.”

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