WILKES-BARRE — U.S. Reps. Matt Cartwright and Bill Posey have re-introduced legislation to make federal agency settlements more transparent.
The bipartisan Truth in Settlements Act would require federal agencies to publicly disclose the terms of non-confidential settlements obtained from offenders. U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and James Lankford, R-Okla., introduced companion legislation in the Senate.
The legislation would require federal agencies to disclose whether any portion of a non-confidential settlement is potentially tax deductible and post information about these settlements on their websites. Additionally, federal agencies would be required to provide an explanation if a settlement is deemed confidential.
“This bill is a commonsense measure to increase settlement transparency and accountability,” said Cartwright, D-Moosic, in an emailed news release. “Taxpayers deserve to know key terms of these settlement agreements. If an agency reaches a settlement with an offender, then that agency must be willing to disclose the terms of the agreement or provide a good reason for not doing so.”
Posey, a Republican from Florida, said when the law is broken and federal agencies decide to settle cases and impose massive fines, the public has a right to know why and what the details of such settlement agreements are.
“This legislation will add more sunshine to the process and lead to more accountability for wrong doing in both the private and public sectors,” Posey said in the release.
Cartwrighgt said federal agencies often tout the topline amount of settlements obtained from offenders. All too often, Cartwright said this value is misleading because tax deductions built into the settlement reduce the settlement’s true value. Worse, agencies can deem settlements confidential without explanation, preventing public scrutiny altogether.
Warren said government accountability requires transparency, and that’s what this bipartisan bill provides.
“The Truth in Settlements Act will shut down backroom deal-making by shining a light on federal agency settlements with lawbreaking companies, Warren said. “More transparency means Congress, citizens, and watchdog groups can better hold regulatory agencies accountable for enforcing laws so that everyone — even corporate CEOs — are equal under the law.”
Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.
17th Congressional District
Rep. Matt Cartwright represents Pennsylvania’s 17th Congressional District, which includes Schuylkill County and portions of Carbon, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Monroe, and Northampton Counties.
Cartwright serves on the House Committee on Appropriations and the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.