LaHood, Quigley Bill Would Assess Civil Penalties On Those Who Mishandle Classified Documents

By Benjamin Cox on March 28, 2023 at 10:51am

16th District Congressman Darin LaHood and 5th District Congressman Mike Quigley have introduced a bill to implement stronger enforcement for those who mishandle the nation’s classified documents.

Currently, criminal penalties for mishandling classified documents must meet a high standard for prosecution. The Classified Documents Accountability Act would create civil penalties for individuals who are found to have removed or retained classified documents. The bill also establishes 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.

The act would create a civil penalty of up to $500,000 per violation for unauthorized removal or retention of classified documents or materials; create a screening and certification process for classified materials during the transition of power between administrations; require a president or vice president or their designee who is a federal employee to certify that they have not retained any classified materials; and creates penalties for an outgoing President or Vice President who does not submit certification, including a pension reduction of up to 50% and the suspension of office space, staffing, and travel allowances.

The bill comes in the wake of classified documents found at former President Donald Trump’s residence Mar-A-Lago in Florida, boxes of classified documents found at current President Joe Biden’s private residence and offices in Delaware and Boston, and classified documents found at the Indiana home of former Vice President Mike Pence back in January.

LaHood, a former federal prosecutor said in a press release on Friday, that reforms must be undertaken to form clearer penalties for individuals who mishandle classified information that he says endangers national security.