Jeremy Alford

Lawmakers getting fully disclosed

by Jeremy Alford

Members of the House of Representatives sweated it out a bit Thursday during a briefing on the new financial disclosure requirements that take effect May 15. House Clerk Butch Speer took lawmakers through the recently completed forms page by page, explaining everything from spousal income to side jobs. It’s likely to be among the best-attended House gathering this session — most reps were reluctant to even slip outside for media interviews.

Speer was pressed hard by many lawmakers to define the differences between reporting income from full-time and part-time jobs. Speer told lawmakers the overriding goal is transparency, after all, and they should use their best judgment. “You are giving information to the public,” he says. “So, what do you want the public to know about your employment? And do you consider it full-time or part-time?”

At the urging (read: forceful hand) of Gov. Bobby Jindal last year, legislators agreed to begin publicly disclosing where the bodies are buried in their personal income. But the new forms drafted by the state Ethics Board are possibly more detailed than any of them originally thought. The wrong address or incomplete information could draw scorn, Speer warns. “And I guess I should say this now, and I’ll say it over and over again. If you do not have a CPA to give you advice about this, you should get one.”

Of course, there is another way around fretting about the new oversight “I don’t have any money, so I’m not worried about it,” says freshman Walker Hines, a Democrat from New Orleans and the youngest member of the Legislature at only 24.