Vt. gets F on financial disclosure for Supreme Court justices - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vt. gets F on financial disclosure for Supreme Court justices

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MONTPELIER, Vt. -

When Vermont received an F from the Center For Public Integrity for financial disclosure requirements for state Supreme Court justices, it didn't ruffle too many feathers.

"We weren't surprised by the recent report of the judges and financial disclosures they had to meet," said Allen Gilbert of the American Civil Liberties Union of Vermont.

The Vermont Public Interest Research Group says the Green Mountain State has bigger fish to fry.

"I think it's far more important frankly to concentrate on candidates running for state office here," said Paul Burns of VPIRG.

Vermont's ACLU says financial disclosure at the state level, like revealing any debts, is paramount for transparent leadership.

"If you have any number of mortgages because you own property, it would be good to know if you owned property in a certain city or town and as governor you helped to steer money toward that city or town," Gilbert said.

Vermont is one of only four states that does not require financial reporting for statewide political candidates. Some officials think that's just fine.

"I don't think it's necessary. I grew up in a family that said your financial affairs are not discussed outside the house," said Rep. Tom Koch, R-Barre Town.

The ACLU and the Vermont Public Interest Research Group are pushing for legislation that would change that. S.86, which passed the Senate, will be taken up by the House Government Operations Committee in January. VPIRG says the bill could see the addition of some disclosure provisions there before sending it back over to the Senate. They acknowledge it could be a tough road, but that it's time for change.

"I think you're gonna see that debate happening in 2014 one way or another," Burns said.

"I am much more concerned about what policies people are promoting than what their personal finances happen to be," Koch said.

Those we spoke to who are opposed to more financial disclosure say that Vermont is small enough that people would know about any shady dealings. Those who want more transparency say that is just the problem, that people think Vermont is a bubble and there could not possibly be any influences that could affect the decision-making process.

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