When Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-NY) came before congressional investigators earlier this year to explain why he didn’t disclose hundreds of stock trades in time, the Long Island congressman currently running for governor gave a good explanation.
Sozie actually told investigators that he was too busy to handle the “form” of reporting hundreds of transactions — in fact, he blamed the ethics office for not sending him constant reminders or assigning him a dedicated coordinator. regulated staff.
“Frankly, we have a lot of things to do in Congress. I have a lot of other things to do. And that’s not the case – ethics is a priority for me. But….some formalities don’t have to be My priority,” the congressman said, according to a Deposition Transcript.
Plus, he hired someone to buy and sell stocks for him, so he didn’t think he needed to declare every time he bought or sold dozens of companies’ stock.
“My impression is that because I have [broker-directed] The accounts they trade at their discretion, my requirement is to fill out the annual disclosure. And I do fill out annual disclosures every year,” he told congressional investigators this year.
In his testimony, Sozie told investigators that he left the trades to an independent stockbroker, which he believed somewhat relieved him of the demands he showed when buying and selling stocks.
For example, when Suozzi’s stockbroker bought more than $50,000 of Tesla stock in March 2021 — and when the broker sold the next month, like his colleagues did MPs start raising concerns Regarding the auto company’s self-driving capabilities – Suozzi is obligated to disclose that information within 45 days. He didn’t.
Last week, when the House Ethics Committee —Notorious for inaction All but the most serious violations call their failure to report stock trades an innocent mistake.
In a July 29 statement, the bipartisan ethics committee officially announced that “there is no clear evidence that these errors and omissions … were knowing or intentional, and members were generally unclear about the requirements.”
When it actually released the investigative documents three days later, it was clear that Sozie had remained defiant and offered some new defense when he was forced to confront his own mistakes earlier this year.
In a virtual panel with House ethics lawyers on Jan. 12, attorney Omar Ashmovi asked if members of Congress could make changes to help politicians make disclosures in the disclosure documents they should submit.
Suozzi suggested that every member of Congress should have their own ethics advisor.
“Well, I think, you know, there is [sic] There are only 435 members of Congress,” Sozie replied. “So I think every member of Congress should have someone from the Ethics Office in charge of that member. So it’s like everyone has their staff. You know, that staff member should be responsible for saying, ‘Hey, you know, you didn’t take the class, you didn’t file your report, you didn’t do it, you didn’t do it. ‘”
Kedric Payne, a former House ethics attorney who ran for the Legal Center, an oversight nonprofit, first accused Suozzi of a complete lack of stock trading. Transparency spans five years.
“His explanation was just failing the smell test. That’s the most straightforward rule. Report your stock trades,” Payne told The Daily Beast.
current rules Require any politician in Congress — and some employees — to report any stock transaction valued at more than $1,000 within 45 days. But Sozie, like many others in Congress, completely ignored the rules.
Campaign Law Center until September 22, 2021 call him out— and six other members of Congress — Sozie took note. The next day, he submitted a “periodic transaction report”, huge 50 pages Since his first week in Congress four years ago, he has made more than 400 stock trades.
“Do you see how fast he can do it?” Payne asked. “He doesn’t have time to report, but he does prioritize trading that many stocks.”
Records show dozens of different types of stocks being bought and sold, from automakers like Ford and General Motors to chipmakers like AMD and Nvidia.
Sozi’s office did not respond to a request for comment on Friday.
The congressman insisted in testimony with investigators that he believed it would be sufficient to submit a year-end report reflecting his portfolio. While these year-end reports reflect which stocks politicians own in aggregate, they don’t show the many purchases and sales that occurred throughout the year, nor do they always indicate when members bought or sold stocks.
The congressman was publicly summoned after an exhaustive search by Sophia Gonsalves-Brown, a researcher at the Campaign Law Center, who examined each congressman and compared Year-by-year disclosures to discover when some stocks seem to disappear.nonprofits at the time file a formal complaint with the Congressional Ethics Office, anyone can pass Fill in the form.
However, last week, when the House Ethics Committee formally reprimanded Suozzi and two others for failing to file their reports on time: Rep. Pat Fallon (R-TX) and Rep. Chris Jacobs (R-New York).
The Daily Beast tried to examine their excuses for not submitting a report, but neither member of Congress has testified. Congressman Fallon “choose not to cooperate and therefore did not testify,” according to committee staff. Meanwhile, no official interviews with Jacobs have been made public because the ethics committee, which is separate from the committee and headed by former Congressman Mike Barnes, is deadlocked over whether to proceed with the investigation. The House of Representatives is not bound by the Public Records Act.
Fallon and Jacobs’ congressional offices did not respond to requests for comment.
The STOCK ACT violations by these politicians come at a defining moment when the law comes under scrutiny for not going far enough to ensure politicians are not abusing their power to enrich themselves with sensitive information they receive as members of Congress.
Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-GA) calls completely ban MPs from trading stocks. Others have also joined the fight to prevent politicians from profiting personally, especially since many of them narrowly escaped.For example, the Department of Justice eventually abandon the investigation Learn how Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) Sell up to $1.7 million in stock After personally reassuring the American public that the country is ready to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
At this point, there are several House and Senate bills aimed at restricting politicians from trading stocks in a certain way. But no one got a vote, even as Democrats were quietly trying to force Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to advance a consensus bill.
However, the lack of action resulted in New York Times The editorial board said “Members of Congress should never trade stocks,” Insider launched its own tool called “conflicting congress,” to track the lack of transparency.
Meanwhile, the House Ethics Committee is going through some turmoil. Top-ranked Republican Rep. Jackie Valowski (R-IN) died Wednesday in two car crashes in her hometown.