Hats off to WRAL and Mark Binker, one of the station’s investigative reporters, who put together an online (and searchable!) database of statements of economic interest for the public to use.
The ethics forms, referred to as SEIs in the jargon-laden halls of state government, are required to be filed out by elected state leaders and appointments to major boards and commissions. They came about following the legislative scandals in 2005 and 2006 that culminated with the imprisonment of former Democratic House Speaker Jim Black, and are intended to let the public know what personal financial interests state leaders have.
The forms are public, but the N.C. Ethics Commission has yet to post them online to be searched easily. Last week, I had this post mentioning that the Independent in Raleigh had requested and posted the SEIs in an article of their own.
The WRAL database takes it a few steps further, with entries of 180 state lawmakers and statewide officials included and put in easy-to-read digital form.
It’s a useful resource — I’ve already got it bookmarked.
Binker’s story accompanying the database found that the information only gives a bare-bones sketch of potential conflicts of interest. State leaders have a requirement that they have to mention investments in publicly-traded companies over $10,000, but doesn’t distinguish whether a person has $10,000 in stock, or $100,000.
To do your own search, just type in the name of a public official in the handy database created by WRAL, and available here.
And let us know what tidbits you find in comments below, or by emailing reporter Sarah Ovaska at firstname.lastname@example.org.