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Check Out Financial Disclosures for Duncan & Crew

By Michele McNeil — July 19, 2010 1 min read
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Financial disclosure forms that top members of the Executive Branch fill out are meant to shed light on, or even prevent, any conflicts of interests by forcing key officials to reveal their assets, gifts, and past jobs. These things rarely yield anything too interesting (although this year we learned that President Obama’s dog, Bo, a gift from the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, was valued at $1,600).

But in the interests of keeping you all informed about the goings on at the Education Department—and so that officials know we do read these forms—I present to you the calendar year 2009 financial disclosure statements for Secretary Arne Duncan, now-chief of staff Joanne Weiss (ex-Race to the Top guru), chief messaging and strategy guy Peter Cunningham, and key ESEA reauthorization player Carmel Martin.

I also requested the forms of chief operating officer Tony Miller and innovation and i3 boss Jim Shelton, but the folks in the department’s ethics office told me both have been given extensions to turn their homework in late.

As the Chicago media already reported, Duncan is worth between $1.58 million and $3.7 million. We don’t know exactly how much because officials only have to report ranges.

My reading of Duncan’s disclosure form also shows he reported three gifts, non-government-related travel expenses, or reimbursements: $350 from Fight for Children as part of his attendance at their annual gala in May 2009; $1,515 for an airline ticket and hotel from longtime friend John Rogers; and another $656 for the same things in July 2009, in connection with two Hoop it Up trips. (Hoop it Up says it’s the largest three-on-three basketball tournament in the world.)

The other three senior staff members—Cunningham, Martin, and Weiss— reported no gifts or non-government travel expenses paid for by others.

The majority of this form focuses on where officials have their assets (stocks, mutual funds, retirement funds) and how much is in them. A quick review of Duncan’s top officials’ disclosures shows run-of-the-mill investments, which seem to add up to less than Duncan’s. But you take a spin through them and let me know if you spot anything interesting.

By the way, you can’t just call the Education Department and get these forms. You have to fill out an official request, and then wait up to 30 days (or more) before you get them.