Sen. Elizabeth Warren has teamed up with Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma to introduce a bill that takes aim at the efficacy and malfeasance of government settlements by requiring federal enforcement agencies to reveal more details about the deals they reach with corporations guilty of misconduct. The legislation seeks to deter confidential, tax-deductible settlements (such as the recent one with JPMorgan Chase) by requiring officials to disclose why the terms of certain pacts are kept secret. It would also mandate that the agencies reveal the specifics of non-confidential agreements so people can better understand how tax deductibility is costing them money. This would force the government to explain why it deems it necessary for money to stay in the pockets of fraudulent firms rather than returning it to taxpayers.

“Anytime an agency decides that an enforcement action is needed, but it is not willing to go to court, that agency should be willing to disclose the key terms and conditions,” Warren said in a statement when she introduced the bill last week. “Increased transparency will shut down back-room deal-making and ensure that Congress, citizens and watchdog groups can hold regulatory agencies accountable for strong and effective enforcement.”

Warren and Coburn’s bill is one of the few steps being taken that actually may bring some accountability to our government. If corporations have the same rights as people, then they should have to suffer the same consequences.

See more companies and their settlements here.

— Posted by Donald Kaufman.

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