Press Releases

New Rep. Porter Bill Would Expose Congressmembers Who Abuse Official Funds

Congresswoman’s Transparency in Taxpayer-Funded Travel Act strengthens disclosure requirements, protects tax dollars

WASHINGTON—Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA), founder and co-chair of the End Corruption caucus, today introduced legislation to give taxpayers more information about Congressmembers who potentially misuse official funds for their travel. The Transparency in Taxpayer-Funded Travel Act is co-led by End Corruption co-chair Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO).

“Taxpayers fund our official budgets; they deserve to know how Congressmembers are spending their money,” said Porter, a member of the House Oversight Committee. “Misuse of official funds not only betrays taxpayers, it further erodes the public’s already low level of trust in our government. My Transparency in Taxpayer-Funded Travel Act will help rebuild faith in government and hold all Congressmembers, regardless of party, accountable.”

“As elected officials, we are the stewards of taxpayer money—it’s our responsibility to allocate it responsibly and transparently,” said Crow. “As Co-Chairs of the House End Corruption Caucus, Rep. Porter and I believe that sunlight is the best disinfectant. We are introducing the Transparency in Taxpayer-Funded Travel Act to help hold members of Congress accountable as they spend taxpayer funds.”

Because current rules allow Congressmembers to file expenses under general categories, there is little accountability for misuse of funds. For example, an investigation last month revealed how members can exploit these lax requirements to spend taxpayer dollars on personal or campaign expenses. Porter’s Transparency in Taxpayer-Funded Travel Act strengthens disclosures, so the public knows generally when, where, and why Representatives are traveling with official funds.

The Transparency in Taxpayer-Funded Travel Act is supported by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Common Cause, End Citizens United / Let America Vote Action Fund, Project On Government Oversight, and Public Citizen.

“Taxpayers deserve a full accounting of the money their members of Congress spend on official travel,” said Donald Sherman, Senior Vice President and Chief Counsel of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. “Currently, Members of Congress like Paul Gosar are free to spend thousands of taxpayer dollars on travel expenses while disclosing virtually nothing. Reps. Porter and Crow’s Transparency in Taxpayer Funded Travel Act would end that practice by requiring Members to make a full accounting of their travel expenses.”

“Transparency is key to restoring the public's faith in their elected officials,” said Tiffany Muller, President of End Citizens United / Let America Vote Action Fund. “We applaud Reps. Porter and Crow's commitment to creating a democracy that's open and accountable to the people.”

“At a time of historically low public trust in the institution of Congress and in the government more broadly, it is crucial that policymakers act to restore that trust,” said Dylan Hedtler-Gaudette, Government Affairs Manager at the Project On Government Oversight. “One especially pernicious way that this public distrust has grown in recent years is in reaction to regularly occurring instances of members of Congress misusing taxpayer dollars for inappropriate reasons. The Transparency in Taxpayer-Funded Travel Act would help address this problem by bringing more sunlight and accountability to the use of public funds for travel by members of Congress, a system that has been abused in the past. Reps. Porter and Crow should be applauded for introducing this bill and we encourage Congress to act swiftly to enact it into law.”

“While ethics legislation passed in 2008 has made privately-sponsored travel by members of Congress fully transparent, the disclosure law did not apply to official travel paid for by the government,” said Craig Holman, Government Affairs Lobbyist at Public Citizen. “Usually, all the public knows about official travel for members of Congress is a one-line notice in annual committee reports. And that one-line rarely fills in the details of the true cost and purpose of the trips. The Transparency in Taxpayer-Funded Travel Act would correct this shortcoming and extend full disclosure to official travel as well as privately-funded travel for Congress.”

Congresswoman Porter has consistently spoken up for strong government accountability. On a monthly basis, she releases her calendar publicly on her website, so constituents know how she is spending her time. She led a successful effort to implement a new rule to shed light on conflicts of interest in Congressional hearings. Porter helped introduce a bill that would prohibit Congressmembers from trading individual stocks and require that they disclose when they receive federal benefits. Her legislation to limit who can serve as an “acting” official and for how long without Senate confirmation passed the House last year.