LaHood unveils bipartisan Classified Documents Accountability Act

U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood (R-IL) on March 24 signed on as the lead original cosponsor of bipartisan legislation that would implement tougher enforcement for the mishandling of classified documents. 

“As a former state and federal prosecutor, I believe it has become clear that there must be reform and clearer penalties for individuals who mishandle classified information,” Rep. LaHood said. “Our bipartisan legislation will help better safeguard our nation and bring accountability to a vital process for our national security.”

The Classified Documents Accountability Act, H.R. 1791, which is sponsored by U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL), would create a civil penalty of up to $500,000 per violation for unauthorized removal or retention of classified documents or materials, according to a bill summary provided by the lawmakers.

Additionally, H.R. 1791  would require the president and the vice president, or their designee who is a federal public sector employee, to certify that they have not retained any classified materials, and would create penalties for an outgoing president or vice president who does not submit certification, including a pension reduction of up to 50 percent and the suspension of office space, staffing, and travel allowances, the summary says.

The bill also would establish a screening and certification process for classified materials during the transition period between administrations, as well as a formal logging and certification process for presidents and vice presidents to turn over classified materials to the National Archives and Records Administration at the end of a presidential term, states the summary.

“Recent events have shined a light on the need to implement penalties for top-level officials who inappropriately keep classified documents, regardless of their intent,” Rep. Quigley said. “There must be accountability for carelessness.”