STOCK Act violations against members of Congress on the rise amid Covid pandemic

The list of Washington, D.C., lawmakers who see their wealth grow exponentially while in office is endless, as the perception of the rich getting richer lives on in the halls of Congress.

Leading the parade here is Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., the sixth-richest member of Congress, as she and her husband, Paul Pelosi, have earned millions of dollars in stock trades — the non-profit group Open Secrets reported that Pelosi’s wealth in 2019 rose to nearly $115 million from $41 million in 2004, with Big Tech stock trades dominating.

However, as the rich get richer, complaints on STOCK Act violations build as well, as seen in a government watchdog group calling attention to lawmakers’ late disclosure of stock transactions.

To the surprise of few who are paying attention, the list includes lawmakers such as U.S. Rep. Katherine Clark, D-Mass., the assistant speaker of the House, and U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, D-Fla., the former Democratic National Committee chair.

The Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act, aka the STOCK Act, was passed in 2012 with bipartisan support and signed by President Barack Obama. According to Fox Business, the law is gaining renewed attention during the pandemic “when some lawmakers were suspected of using information from government roles to profit.”

A broad look at the STOCK Act shows it prohibits members of Congress and their staff from engaging in insider trading based on information they learn through their roles. The law also applies to certain members of the executive branch and federal judiciary, according to FBN.

Members of Congress are required to make a “full and complete” statement of their assets and their spouse’s assets, debts, and income. Periodic reports of their financial transactions exceeding $1,000 are also required within 30-45 days of the transaction.

A complaint was filed last week with the Office of Congressional Ethics against Clark who allegedly failed to disclose up to $285,000 in financial transactions on time, Fox Business reported:

Specifically, Clark, first elected in 2012, failed to publicly disclose 19 personal stock transactions by her husband within 45 days, according to the ethics complaint. This included investments in Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc.; Best Buy; First Solar; investment firm BlackRock; pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline; data management company Iron Mountain; and water technology company Xylem Inc. The transactions valued between $19,019 and $285,000, were made on June 4 but were not disclosed until Aug. 15.

 

Wasserman-Schultz reportedly bought up to $15,000 in stock in Westell Technologies, a telecommunications firm, in October 2020, but did not disclose the trades until July 2021, which exceeded the required deadline. Additionally, her dependent child bought up to $45,000 in stock in the company.

The complaint against DWS was filed by the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust. The group also filed late financial disclosure complaints against U.S. Reps. Lori Trahan, D-Mass., and Kathy Castor, D-Fla.

“These disclosure reports are the only way for citizens and watchdog organizations to monitor election officials and determine if they are profiting from positions,” Kendra Arnold, executive director of FACT, told Fox News. “The only way to determine this in a timely manner is if they file the reports on time. Some lawmakers file the reports two years or six months late.”

More on the complaints on Trahan and Castor from FBN:

The complaint against Castor alleges the Florida congresswoman first elected in 2006 bought $45,000 worth of Berkshire Hathaway stock in June and July of 2020 but waited a year – July 27, 2021 – to disclose the investments.

The ethics complaint against Trahan alleges the Massachusetts congresswoman first elected in 2018, sold up to $15,000 in the software company Stella Connect on Sept. 10, 2020 but waited 10 months – July 27, to disclose the matter.

 

While it may appear to be all Democrats, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., was recently accused of violating the STOCK Act, when his wife bought as much as $15,000 stock in Gilead Sciences, which makes the medicine remdesivir.

The purchase was in February 2020, before the FDA approved the drug for the treatment of COVID-19

Kelley Paul explained that she made the purchase after hearing the World Health Organization touting the drug as a promising COVID-19 treatment. She also pointed out that she lost money on the investment.

Tom Tillison

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