- The Washington Times
Friday, August 20, 2021

A conservative watchdog group on Friday filed ethics complaints against three Democratic congresswomen, saying they failed to properly disclose their financial transactions. 

The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust said Reps. Kathy Castor of Florida, Lori Trahan of Massachusetts and Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida violated federal law and House ethics rules that require reports within 45 days of financial transactions exceeding $1,000. The group lodged the complaints with the House of Representatives’ Office of Congressional Ethics. 

“This is one of the foundational ethics rules that we have and just not doing it is not an option,” said Kendra Arnold, FACT executive director. “This is one of the basic rules that must be followed. It gives citizens basic oversight.”

Ms. Arnold said FACT became aware of the “extraordinary” delays in the lawmakers’ disclosures through the lawmakers’ later disclosures. The financial transactions occurred between June and October of 2020, but were not disclosed until last month. 

FACT says Ms. Trahan disclosed selling up to $15,000 of stock in software company Stella Connect more than 10 months after the September transaction.

Ms. Trahan’s office said, once she realized an error in her reporting, she worked to correct it. 

“Over the course of filing her annual personal financial disclosure, Congresswoman Trahan recognized that a divestment of her holdings should have precipitated a periodic transaction report,” said Francis Grubar, Ms. Trahan’s spokesperson, in an email. “She immediately filed a [periodic transaction report] to proactively rectify the situation.”

FACT’s complaint about Ms. Castor charges that she failed to disclose her acquisition of $45,000 of Berkshire Hathaway stock “over a year late.” Ms. Castor’s office did not respond to a request for comment. 

FACT’s complaint about Ms. Wasserman Schultz claims she purchased up to $15,000 in stock of Westell Technologies, a telecommunications-product company, in October 2020 but did not disclose the trade until last month. The complaint also says that Ms. Wasserman Schultz similarly did not disclose a purchase of up to $45,000 of stock in the same company in the same month by “her dependent child.”

Ms. Wasserman Schultz’s office did not respond to a request for comment. 

Ms. Arnold said she hopes the ethics team investigates what prompted the delays in the lawmakers’ reporting. She declined to speculate on whether political influences or events occurring between the transactions and their reporting, such as the November 2020 elections, may have played a role in the delay. 

Ms. Arnold said the lawmakers ought to have known the rules and filing a year late eliminates the purpose of the law guiding the disclosures. She said ignorance of the law is not an excuse for the delayed disclosures and she thinks it is imperative that the disclosure rules are enforced. 

• Ryan Lovelace can be reached at rlovelace@washingtontimes.com.

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