An outside ethics group says seven House lawmakers failed to obey the law over mandatory stock trade disclosures.
The Campaign Legal Center’s complaint isn’t a small one.
In fact, it includes one Democratic lawmaker, Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-N.Y.), that allegedly failed to file the required reports on approximately 300 stock transactions. Suozzi is a top ally of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Five of the seven sit on the House Financial Services Committee.
Critics say it’s further proof that lawmakers are simply ignoring the nine-year-old Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act (STOCK Act). The 2012 law is supposed to prove that elected officials are not profiting from insider government information.
Normal complaints of STOCK Act violations involve lawmakers filing their reports late – sometimes years late.
The Campaign Legal Center’s complaint on Wednesday against Suozzi and the six others — Reps. Cindy Axne (D-I.A.), Warren Davidson (R-O.H.), Michael San Nicolas (D-Guam), Lance Gooden (R-T.X.), Bobby Scott (D-V.A.), and Roger Williams (R-T.X.) — is unique because the ethics watchdog said the lawmakers failed to file any reports.
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“The lack of accountability we’ve seen in regard to STOCK Act compliance is basically giving elected officials the green light to buy and sell stocks based on information gained from committee meetings without any transparency for their voters,” Senior Director of Ethics Kedric Payne at the Campaign Legal Center said in a statement.
Suozzi’s office denied wrongdoing and said independent advisors manage his investments.
“The Congressman’s investments are managed through independent advisors with discretion over all transactions,” the spokesperson said. “Every transaction has been reported on his annual financial disclosure and all proper periodic disclosures will be filed on a going forward basis.”
According to the Campaign Legal Center, Suozzi failed to disclose the approximate 300 transactions between 2017 and 2020 – stock sales and purchases worth between $3.2 to $11 million.
“This included roughly 64 transactions in 2017 valued between $456,064 and $1,868,000; 31 transactions in 2018 valued between $528,031 and $1,445,00; 104 transactions in 2019 worth $1.1 million and $3.8 million; and 104 in 2020 worth between $1.1 million and $4 million,” NPR reported. “He disclosed the trades on annual disclosures but did not file PTRs.”
Critics have called the STOCK Act ineffectual because it’s so difficult to actually enforce.
“The STOCK Act is pretty much useless,” Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) said. “It’s extremely difficult to know when a person in Congress has traded stocks because of information they heard publicly versus information that they’ve heard privately.”
Since it passed almost 10 years ago, no lawmaker in the House or Senate has received formal punishment for violations of the STOCK Act.
The Horn editorial team