Congressional candidates ignore financial disclosure rules

Pelosi is among 116 who didn’t file required reports before June 5 primaries

Published June 14, 2018 4:00AM (EDT)

Nancy Pelosi (AP/Steven Senne)
Nancy Pelosi (AP/Steven Senne)

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More than a third of the Congressional candidates on ballots across eight states failed to file required personal financial disclosures before last week’s primary.

When voters went to the polls June 5 they did not have valuable information on 116 out of 304 candidates on both sides of the aisle, according to a report by Center for Responsive Politics.

The candidates had a deadline of May 15 to file financial disclosures to congressional ethics committees. Federal law states that any candidate who raises or spends at least $5,000 must file a report. These reports detail sources of income, assets and liabilities and could tip voters to potential conflicts of interest.

This year is unusual for the sheer number of political novices running for office so ignorance of the rules could play a part in the omissions. But the list of non-filers also includes well-seasoned politicians such as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and 45 other incumbents.

Out of the 116 who did not disclose their finances before the primaries, which Common Cause listed by state, 23 stayed within the law by requesting a filing extension. The penalty for those filing late is a paltry $200 fine.

Candidates have until mid-June under the Ethics in Government Act to disclose their finances. By then, 26 states will have already held their primaries. The Center for Responsive Politics report only examined the lack of filings by candidates in the five states of the June 5 primaries. If we do the math, that’s a lot of votes cast in darkness so far this year. See the resources below to search for your candidates’ financial reports.

Primary Previews

Five states hold primaries this Tuesday. Here’s what to watch:

Maine: The race to watch is the 2nd Congressional District. Incumbent Bruce Poliquin (R-Maine) is running unopposed in a district that leans Republican. There’s a three-way contest among Democrats Jared Golden, Lucas St. Clair and Craig Olson.

Nevada: One of the nation’s biggest Senate races is for incumbent Sen. Dean Heller’s (R) seat. He faces no real challengers on the Republican ticket. On the Democratic ballot, Jacky Rosen and Jesse Sbaih are the frontrunners with Rosen raising $7.1 million to Sbaih’s $2.2 million. The race is considered a toss-up in November.

There are two open House seats, in the 3rd and 4th Districts that lean Democrat. There’s a bevy of candidates vying for these seats with Susie Lee seen as the frontrunner to take Jacky Rosen’s seat in the 3rd District (as Rosen runs for Senator) with Danny Tarkanian on the Republican side. For the 4th District, Democrat Steven Horsford is seen as the leading candidate.

North Dakota: Incumbent Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D) is running unopposed in the primary. Republican candidate Rep. Kevin Cramer is expected to win his party’s nomination. Despite Heitkamp having a hefty war chest close to $10 million, compared with Cramer’s $2.4 million, this is a seat that reportedly could flip red in November.

Cramer leaves the state’s only Congressional seat open, which is expected to stay safely Republican. Candidate Kelly Armstrong (R) is the frontrunner among Republicans and Mac Schneider is the sole Democrat running for the seat.

South Carolina: The race to replace Rep. Trey Gowdy’s (R) seat in the 4th Congressional District is the one to watch on Tuesday. More than a dozen Republicans are jockeying for the spot, led by Will Timmons, Josh Kimbrell and Daniel Hamilton. On the Democratic ticket, Eric Knox Graben leads a group of five candidates.

Virginia: Former vice presidential candidate Sen. Tim Kaine (D) is running unopposed in his primary. He is facing three Republican challengers, led by Corey Stewart.

But the hot races in this state are for the 5th and 6th Congressional Districts. The 5th Congressional District leans Republican and had a last-minute changeup as incumbent Rep. Thomas Garrett (R) had to abandon his re-election bid amidst scandal days before the primary. State Republican leaders have chosen Denver Riggleman as the Republican nominee. Leslie Cockburn (D) is the lone Democratic challenger.

In the 6th Congressional District, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R) is retiring after 25 years, leaving an open seat in a solidly red district. Ben Cline is the Republican frontrunner. On the Democratic side, four candidates are vying for the seat, led by Peter Volosin and Jennifer Lewis.

People are also watching the race for the 10th District where incumbent Rep. Barbara Comstock’s (R) seat could be in play. Comstock should have no trouble winning her primary, but she faces several Democratic challengers led by Allison Friedman, Jennifer Wexton and Daniel Helmer, all of whom have raised more than $1 million.

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By Jillian S. Ambroz

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Dc Report Ethics Financial Disclosures Nancy Pelosi