No SEI Forms until 2016

 

There are very few tools citizens have to enforce any kind of accountability in their local governments. One of them is the Statement of Economic Interest forms all public officials are required to file each April.

They are prohibitively expense individually, but can be quite expense when you want them for your entire council, city admin/manager and planning commission or entity. There are 6 pages to the form and it costs 25 cents a page. There is no postage if you have them emailed.

When I originally requested my first set, the information was invaluable. We had a councilor who failed to report his business. I filed a complaint and he was fined. It also gives a sense of how seriously elected officials take Ethics - Sam Adams from Portland would repeatedly file his late. One year, he didn't file it until I requested it and the commission had to go ask him for it because they didn't even realize they hadn't received it.

For years, the state has been discussing getting these online so they were readily available at no charge. The matter keeps getting moved out due to budgeting. The only reason I can think that it would be expensive is if they were looking to build some monster database. It really doesn't have to be that complicated. Ethics already keeps a spreadsheet online of who has to file. They already store them electronically. So, why can't they simply link the file to the name in the spreadsheet? I don't know.

The last deadline I had heard was by 2013, they would be online.

This week, I received an email from Erin Horstman at OGEC. She stated:

Our online filing system is still in the development stages due to funding issues in previous budget cycles, and is slated to be up and running by January 1 of 2016 according to the amendments made through HB2322 this year.

This really seems like a case of delay because it is not a priority to get it done. The funding for Ethics is determined by the elected officials. Consequently, Ethics has very little money. This way, they are unable to have the resources to hold the elected officials accountable.

Convenient or shady? I will leave you to make that determination.