Top Dem Caught Up In Million Dollar Stock Controversy
Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-Wash., reportedly failed to abide by federal law regarding when she is required to disclose stock transactions.
According to a periodic transaction report filed by the lawmaker earlier this month, DelBene's husband executed two transactions worth between $1.25 million and $5.5 million on Aug. 30, 2022, and March 1, respectively. The problem is that under the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act of 2012, members of Congress are legally required to report any securities transactions over $1,000 within no more than 45 days after they or their spouse execute such transactions.
DelBene waited to report the Microsoft stock sales 288 days and 105 days after the transactions took place, her filing showed.
Dylan Hedtler-Gaudette, the government affairs manager at the Project on Government Oversight, expressed his concern over the issue in an interview with Fox News Digital.
"Members of Congress from both parties are missing these deadlines and not disclosing transactions when they're supposed to according to the law, which in and of itself, from a first principle standpoint, is a really bad thing because you have lawmakers who are not following the law that they made," he said.
Hedtler-Gaudette then talked about evidence of lawmakers regularly outperforming the market and the public trust they lose as a result, adding the "appearance of impropriety and the appearance of potential corruption" is "corrosive" to the institution and its individual members.
A spokesperson for DelBene offered an explanation for the delayed disclosure. The transactions, the spokesperson said, were part of a forward contract created by DelBene's husband, Kurt DelBene, after he was confirmed for a senior role at the Department of Veterans Affairs and resigned from Microsoft back in September 2021.
"The entirety of the contract was disclosed over a year ago and it has not been altered since," the statement continued. "The DelBenes cannot adjust or initiate any actions related to the forward contract. These transactions fall under the original forward contract but are being reported separately in the interest of transparency after consulting with the House Ethics Committee and the Department of Veterans Affairs."
Kedric Payne, the vice president and general counsel for the Campaign Legal Center, said the member missed the filing deadline, and that "constant violations of the law show that the disclosure requirement is not enough."
Fortunately, DelBene has co-sponsored legislation that would ban members of Congress and their spouses from trading individual stocks. Reps. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., and Chip Roy, R-Texas, reintroduced the TRUST Act in January.
Whether or not that legislation will pass remains to be seen, but it is clear that more needs to be done to ensure members of Congress and their spouses are following federal laws when it comes to stock trading disclosure. Otherwise, the public's trust in Congress and individual members of the House of Representatives will continue to erode.