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Democrat Harley Rouda hit with ethics complaint after apparent stock trades violations uncovered by Insider

  • The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust says Rouda violated ethics with late stock filing.
  • Meanwhile, Sens. John Hickenlooper and Mark Warner are trading pharmaceutical stocks.
  • Senate hopeful J.D. Vance got more time to file his financial disclosure.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Members of Congress routinely trade stocks, buying and selling the shares of companies that often have significant business before the federal government — and sometimes spend a lot of money to lobby lawmakers.

Each week, Insider digs through congressional financial-disclosure records and asks lawmakers questions about their personal finances. Here are the latest highlights from what we’ve discovered.

Rouda hit with ethics complaint 

A nonprofit watchdog is filing an ethics complaint on Monday against former Rep. Harley Rouda, a California Democrat, after an Insider report showed he was almost a year late in disclosing up to $45,000 in Amazon and Tesla stocks. 

The complaint, filed by the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, asks the Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate Rouda, noting that he has been tardy in filing his stock trades before and was issued a fine as result. 

 

Rouda is trying to get re-elected to Congress in 2022 after being voted out of office in 2020. The seat is currently held by Michelle Steel, a Republican closely aligned with former President Donald Trump. 

Rouda disclosed in May that almost a year earlier his wife had purchased up to $15,000 worth of Amazon stock, then sold the same amount worth of Amazon shares a week later. She also sold up to $15,000 in Tesla stock in June 2020.

Under the federal STOCK Act, lawmakers are required to report their trades within 30 to 45 days after the transactions happen, depending on the type of trade. Rouda was still in Congress when the trades occurred, meaning his latest filing is about 11 months late.

Kendra Arnold, executive director of the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, told Insider that the OCE should investigate the case and impose fines or penalties if Rouda violated federal law. Timely disclosures were important, she said, so that citizens could monitor whether elected officials faced conflicts of interest or were wrongly profiting from information they were able to uncover as a member of Congress. 

“The law is abundantly clear and there are no excuses for not complying once, let alone twice,” Arnold said. “It appears that even though he was fully aware of the law, Rouda was not taking these reporting requirements seriously.”

Hickenlooper cashes out on women’s health spinoff

Sen. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat of Colorado, had invested in Organon & Co., the women’s health spinoff created by pharmaceutical giant Merck. He first had up to $15,000 invested in the company before selling off his shares at the end of June. 

Organon has been focused on fertility and long-acting contraceptives, but will be broadening into oncology and inflammatory diseases, such as arthritis, according to a March 2020 company announcement

The company in mid-June also bought medical device manufacturer Alydia Health, which creates products that prevent abnormal bleeding during childbirth. Hickenlooper sold off his stocks just a couple of weeks after the acquisition

In mid-July, some investing analysts told people to dump Organon stock, saying they thought it had low potential for growth. 

Hickenlooper is on the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, which oversees healthcare policy, business regulations, and medical research funding. 

Hickenlooper wasn’t the only senator with cash in the pharmaceutical industry. Financial disclosures show that Sen. Mark Warner, a Democrat of Virginia, bought up to $50,000 in stock on June 16 from Acumen Pharmaceuticals. 

Acumen is working on a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease — a topic that medical researchers are abuzz about after the Food and Drug Administration approved Biogen’s new Alzheimer’s treatment, Aduhelm, despite uncertainty over its effectiveness. 

Warner, who is one of the wealthiest members of Congress, obtained private stock in Acumen right ahead of the Charlottesville, Virginia-based company going public on July 1. Warner is on the Finance Committee, which is working on a plan to reduce the price of prescription drugs but is running into lack of support in Congress.

JD Vance Capitol 2017

J.D. Vance near the Capitol in Washington, DC, January 27, 2017.

Astrid Riecken/Washington Post via Getty


Hillbilly extension 

J.D. Vance, the bestselling “Hillbilly Elegy” author who is running for the Ohio Senate seat of retiring Republican Sen. Rob Portman, asked for and received a 90-day extension to file his financial disclosures. 

The information, once filed, will reveal how much money he makes, including from his book and

Netflix
film royalties, as well as where he invests his money and how much he gets paid for any speeches he gives. 

The disclosures were originally due July 31, but now Vance has until October 29 to file them. 

Read more: Small turnout for J.D. Vance on Capitol Hill this week as the ‘Hillbilly Elegy’ author explores a Senate bid

Ken Russell, a Democratic Miami commissioner running for Sen. Marco Rubio‘s seat, asked and was also granted a 30-day extension. He’s now expected to file his paperwork no later than August 2.

Rep. Marie Newman

Rep. Marie Newman, Democrat of Illinois at the Capitol in DC.

Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images


Newmans make multiple trades in June

Jim Newman, the husband of Rep. Marie Newman, a Democrat of Illinois, made numerous trades in June in pandemic-sensitive stocks. He sold off as much as $115,000 in

Zoom
stock as people return to in-person work, and shed as much as $15,000 in Peloton Interactive, the fitness company that provides virtual workout classes. 

Read more: Rep. Marie Newman and her husband are packing their stock portfolio with COVID-19 vaccine makers and other pandemic-sensitive companies

Rep. Mark Green, a Republican of Tennessee, in July traded stocks in several energy and gas companies, including Energy Transfer LP, Enlink Midstream, and Antero Midstream Corporation.

He sold up to $1 million worth of shares in Energy Transfer LP. Energy companies could get a significant boost under President Joe Biden‘s infrastructure plan. This week, Senate Democrats reached an agreement on the $3.5 trillion plan that would include investing in renewable energy. 

Rep. Josh Gottheimer, a Democrat of New Jersey, also reported making numerous stock and stock option trades in June. He bought shares in Google parent company Alphabet Inc., Biogen Inc., and Progressive Corp., and sold shares or options in Berkshire Hathaway Inc., Coca-Cola Co., Etsy Inc., Microsoft Corp., Snap Inc., Tesla Inc.

Deborah Malumed, the wife of California Democrat Rep. Alan Lowenthal, bought up to $15,000 in Uber stock in July. 

The couple also sold off up to $15,000 in Johnson & Johnson, the pharmaceutical company that created the single-shot coronavirus vaccine. 

Government officials recently announced that the vaccine is linked to a rare nerve disorder. Johnson & Johnson recently issued massive recall of certain spray-on sunscreens because they contained traces of cancer-causing chemical benzene. 

In June, Malumed purchased up to $50,000 worth in stocks in Kraft Heinz Food — famous for its ketchup, Kool-Aid, Jell-O, and Philadelphia cream cheese products. Around the time of the purchase, Kraft Heinz had announced that it finalized the sale of its nuts business to Hormel Foods Corporation in a $3.35 billion cash transaction. 

Tommy Tuberville

Sen. Tommy Tuberville, a Republican who represents Alabama, used to coach Auburn University’s football team.

AP Photo/John Minchillo, File


Option play for Tuberville

In June, Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama, who previously coached Auburn University’s football team, purchased stock options in Ford Motor Co., Automatic Data Processing Inc., and Occidental Petroleum Corporation.

Each was valued at up to $15,000, according to a Senate disclosure from July 16.

Meanwhile, Tuberville reported selling stock options in Apple Inc., Microsoft Corp., and Qualcomm Inc. All three sales were likewise valued at up to $15,000.

Insider reported in June that Tuberville, as a senate candidate, owned stock shares in Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., which has ties to China’s Communist Party. Tuberville is among the Senate’s fiercest critics of the Chinese government.

Here are a few other trades from June and July that caught Insider’s attention: 

  • Rep. Mike Waltz, a Republican of Florida, purchased up to $100,000 in bitcoin during June.
  • Charles Capito, the husband of Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican of West Virginia, bought up to $15,000 in Apple stock in June. 
  • Rep. Jim Banks, a Republican of Indiana, in June invested in Kroger Company, a retail company, and Roblox Corporation, an online entertainment company. Each stock was valued at up to $15,000. 
  • Rep. Mike Garcia, a Republican of California, invested up to $15,000 into GameStop in June. Earlier this year, GameStop gained national attention when its stock soared to record-high levels after a Reddit message urged massive numbers of small traders to quickly buy up stocks in the company.
  • Rep. Susie Lee, a Democrat of Nevada, in July bought several stocks in June including Live Nation Entertainment, Domino’s Pizza and L Brands, which is the parent company of Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works. She sold up to $15,000 worth of stocks in Starbucks. 
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