On the heels of a brewing scandal over senators' mortgages, Sens. John Cornyn and Barbara Boxer have proposed an amendment to the Senate housing bill that would force all senators to disclose details of the mortgages on their personal residences.
Cornyn (R-Texas), the top Republican on the Senate ethics committee, introduced the amendment this afternoon, and he has backing from the Boxer (D-Calif.), the chairwoman of the Ethics panel. The amendment would require senators to make a “full and complete” disclosure of residential mortgages.
This proposal would require senators to disclose the date that the mortgage was signed, the size of the loan, the interest rate, the term, and the name and address of the creditor. It would take effect when senators file their financial disclosure forms next year. This year's deadline for financial disclosures has already passed.
Cornyn's amendment comes on the heels of a Politico story and survey that asked all senators to reveal basic details about their mortgages. So far, 77 Senate offices have responded to Politico and 23 have not. Politico decided to launch the survey of all 100 Senate offices after Portfolio's Conde Nast broke the story about how Sens. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) and Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) received special breaks on their mortgages from disgraced lender Countrywide Financial.
"Accountability in government is only an empty promise without transparency and disclosure," Cornyn said. "The more information that we can put in the hands of citizens and journalists, the stronger our democracy will be, particularly as we take the necessary steps to rebuild the confidence of the American people in their government. This amendment would close an unwarranted loophole."
Boxer told Politico Tuesday afternoon that the entire Senate Ethics Committe backs the amendment, but it's not clear if it will be accepted because it may not be germane to the housing bill.
"We just feel this is a logical extension of disclosure," Boxer said.
It's not clear yet if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will embrace the Cornyn/Boxer amendment and whether it will become part of the overall housing bill. The Crypt will update with any developments.