The report also highlights gaps in current disclosure rules. Currently, and most likely for good reason after the tragic shooting of former representative Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), lawmakers do not have to provide their home addresses on financial disclosure forms. But certainly it would be reasonable, when lawmakers seek earmarks, to require that they disclose any nearby property holdings or the involvement of family members in the entity receiving the money — not merely to offer blanket certifications that they stand to reap no financial reward.
Consider the case of Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), who obtained a $900,000 earmark to resurface about two dozen roads in his state — including a quarter-mile residential loop on which he owns a home. Mr. Thompson said he did not ask for his street to be paved; the local mayor, who described Mr. Thompson as a close friend, said the congressman “didn’t have anything to do with where the asphalt went.” But constituents can’t be blamed for wondering if Mr. Thompson, having secured the money for repaving, received preferential treatment.