Ethics Watchdog Calls for Probe of U.S. Representative Donald Norcross
FACT Says New Jersey Congressman Failed to Disclose All-Expenses Paid Trip Funded by Qatar
Washington, D.C.— June 28, 2019 —The non-partisan ethics watchdog, the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), has filed a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) asking for an investigation into whether U.S. Representative Donald Norcross (D-NJ) failed to disclose a “full and complete” Financial Disclosure Report regarding an all-expenses paid trip funded by the government of Qatar, which was in clear violation of ethics rules and federal law.
According to a recent media report, Representative Norcross attended the 2018 Doha Forum in Doha, Qatar from December 14-16, 2018. While the all-expenses paid trip was funded by the government of Qatar, Representative Norcross failed to list the trip on his 2018 financial disclosure.
“This violation raises serious questions about why a veteran legislator was concealing such information,” said Kendra Arnold, Executive Director, Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT).
According to federal law, Members of Congress must file a financial disclosure noting the source, description, and value of all gifts exceeding a minimum value. In 2018, under the Ethics in Government Act (“EIGA”), the minimum value for reporting a gift or reimbursement was $390, which, by any estimation, a trip to Qatar would far exceed.
The complaint further notes that by failing to report the accepted travel from a foreign government, Representative Norcross obscured any potential conflicts or financial ties to foreign governments he may have, which is imperative to the national security of the United States. As FACT’s complaint notes, Qatar is the site of the largest U.S. air base in the Middle East which hosts approximately 10,000 U.S. service personnel.
“Financial disclosure laws exist to help ensure that elected representatives are not abusing the power of their office for political or personal gain or being influenced by domestic or foreign entities. In this case, Representative Norcross serves as a member of the House Armed Services Committee, and so it is imperative that his actions in this case be investigated,” Arnold concluded.
FACT has requested the OCE investigate Representative Norcross’s failure to properly report travel on his Financial Disclosure Report, and furthermore, determine if, given the source of funding for the trip, Representative Norcross can legally accept a gift of this nature from a foreign government.
A full copy of the complaint can be read here.
FACT is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting accountability, ethics, and transparency in government and civic arenas. For more on FACT, visit: http://www.factdc.org/.