Lawmakers are required to be transparent about their financial interests. A failure to do so means the electorate can't know that laws are being made in the public's interest rather than in the lawmaker's personal interest.
Nearly two years after he was censured by the House for failing to disclose more than $500,000 in assets, Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., has revealed he forgot to include other required information on his congressional financial disclosure report, including a small annuity owned by his wife and two unpaid board positions he held.
With little fanfare, Rangel earlier this month amended a decade of his congressional ethics reports to include the missing assets.
"Inadvertent omissions were made," Rangel wrote the clerk of the House of Representatives. "My accountant discovered that my spouse had invested in a Fixed Annuity Contract (Fixed Annuity) in 2002." Rangel's letter said his wife Alma's annuity was worth between $15,000 and $50,000 and was held from 2002 to 2010. Income from the annuity ranged from $1,000 to $2,500, he said.
In addition, Rangel disclosed that he had failed to list Individual Retirement Account distributions amounting to about $5,000 in 2011. And Rangel's letter disclosed he had failed to disclose his unpaid memberships on two boards of directors: an ex officio position on the board of the New York City Empowerment Zone and the Ann S. Kheel Charitable trust, which funded "educational, civil rights and other organizations that serve disadvantaged New York neighborhoods."
Financial Disclosure Statements are forms all federal lawmakers are required to file that list their financial assets so the public can know what economic interest they have and can identify conflicts of interest.
A censure is a formal punishment formally voted by the House of Representatives for serious infractions of House rules and ethics. It is a punishment that is rarely used and is reserved for the most serious cases.