Rep. Blake Moore Violated Federal Law With Late Stock Disclosures
Table of Contents
- 1 Utah congressman violates STOCK Act
- 2 Khannas invest in movies, dating
- 3 Rep. Kevin Hern, right, a Republican from Oklahoma, made a big investment in Johnson & Johnson, the maker of one of the leading COVID-19 vaccines. AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin
- 4 Hern makes a big J&J play
- 5 Sen. John Boozman, a Republican from Arkansas, invested in the COVID-19 vaccine makers Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson. AP Photo/Danny Johnston
- 6 Boozman likes J&J, too. And Pfizer.
- 7 Rep. Raúl Grijalva, an Arizona Democrat, publicly disclosed his wife’s investment in gold. One problem: he didn’t have to. Photo by Bonnie Cash-Pool/Getty Images
- 8 For Grijalva, no gold to see here
- The Utah congressman filed more than 70 of his stock disclosures weeks or months late.
- He’s a member of the House Armed Services Committee and invested in the defense contractor Raytheon.
- Moore also invested in the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba despite his criticism of China.
Members of Congress routinely trade stocks, buying and selling 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.
Utah congressman violates STOCK Act
Freshman Rep. Blake Moore, a Republican from Utah, failed to properly disclose dozens of stock and stock-option trades together worth at least $70,000 and as much as $1.1 million, according to an Insider analysis of newly filed congressional records.
Moore was weeks or months late in disclosing more than 70 separate trades he made between mid-January and mid-May. US House lawmakers violate the STOCK Act‘s transparency provision if they don’t formally disclose a trade in a certified report to the clerk of the House of Representatives within 45 days of a stock trade.
Moore’s tardy trade disclosures include seven transactions involving stock or stock-option purchases and sales of Alibaba Group Holding Limited, a Chinese e-commerce company with reported ties to the Chinese Communist Party, including the creation of a propaganda app. Alibaba shares are down from highs this year in February.
The congressman is an outspoken critic of China’s government. In a March opinion article published in The Hill, Moore wrote that the Chinese Communist Party was a “strategic adversary” that was “challenging our political, economic, industrial, and educational systems” and that “expertly subverts the international rules-based order.”
Read more: Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville is a vocal critic of China’s government. He also owned stock in a Chinese company with Communist Party ties.
In four purchases from February to May, Moore also bought up to $60,000 worth of stock shares in Raytheon Technologies Corporation, a major US government defense contractor that produces missile systems, weapons platforms, and sensors, among other military products. Raytheon stock has steadily increased in value this year.
Moore is a member of the House Committee on Armed Services, which has jurisdiction over US military affairs. He is also a member of several military-related congressional caucuses, including the F-35 Caucus, the Hypersonics Caucus, the Military Depot and Industrial Facilities Caucus, the National Guard Caucus, and the Navy and Marine Corps Caucus.
In a statement to Insider, Moore’s office acknowledged the late filings and said Moore had already consulted the House Committee on Ethics and paid a fine — it did not say how much — for filing late. Fines for a first-time STOCK Act violator begin at $200.
Moore’s office said the congressman earlier this year transferred funds from a 401(k) retirement account to a financial-management firm in Utah that now buys and sells “commonly traded stocks on his behalf.” The firm, which Moore’s office did not name, “trained a compliance advisor to submit reports on trades, and a system has now been set up to ensure that periodic transaction reports are filed on time,” the statement said.
“Upon entering Congress, Congressman Moore made an intentional effort to learn the new financial requirements and simplify and consolidate his financial investments,” the statement added. “Now that Congressman Moore has fully established a financial compliance process with his firm and the Ethics Committee, he will continue to ensure all future filing deadlines are met in accordance with Ethics rules.”
Moore’s office did not answer Insider’s questions about why the lawmaker personally invested in Alibaba and Raytheon and whether he gave his financial-management company direction — and if so, to what degree — on the kinds of investments it should make.
Moore’s office also did not say whether the congressman and his staff completed required congressional-ethics training where financial-disclosure rules are routinely covered.
Officials for the House Ethics Committee declined to comment.
Read more: Democratic Rep. Tom Malinowski, a champion for transparency, failed to disclose dozens of stock transactions worth at least $671,000 in apparent violation of federal law
Members of Congress are required to report stock-trade values only in broad ranges. All of Moore’s reported trades fell within the range of $1,001 to $15,000.
Other stocks or stock options that Moore bought or sold this year include those of Alphabet Inc., Amazon.com Inc., American Express Company, Apple Inc., Bank of America Corp., Berkshire Hathaway Inc., Dollar General Corp., Facebook Inc., the health-savings-account company HealthEquity Inc., the pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson, Mastercard Inc., Microsoft Corp., and the computer chip and systems company Nvidia Corp.
Several other members of Congress have this year run into trouble disclosing various stock trades as federal law requires.
They include Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat of California; Rep. Tom Malinowski, a Democrat of New Jersey; Rep. Pat Fallon, a Republican of Texas; and Sean Patrick Maloney, a Democrat of New York.
Former Rep. Harley Rouda, a Democrat of California who’s attempting a comeback, also failed to properly disclose stock trades.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat, and Rep. Pramila Jayapal, a Washington Democrat, told Insider they’d soon introduce companion legislation barring members of Congress from trading individual stocks.
But other similar efforts have failed in recent years, most notably in 2012, when the STOCK Act, which established current congressional stock-disclosure rules, did not outright prohibit members from trading stocks.
Moore’s office did not answer a question about whether the congressmen would support or oppose such legislation.
Khannas invest in movies, dating
Ritu Khanna, a multimillionaire heiress who is the wife of Rep. Ro Khanna, a progressive Democrat from California, made 16 trades in June, with all but three valued at $15,000 or less.
She bought shares in Dollar General Corp., the online-dating service Match Group,
, and Nvidia Corp.
Ritu Khanna has worked as a business executive at companies such as the Macy’s department chain and the luxury jeweler Bulgari. Roll Call lists the couple’s net worth at $27 million, largely because Ritu Khanna’s father, Monte Ahuja, is an executive at the investment firm Mura Holdings and Transtar, an automotive transmission-parts company.
Hern makes a big J&J play
Rep. Kevin Hern, a Republican from Oklahoma, bought 18 stocks in June as part of a joint account. One of the purchases was for up to $500,000 in Johnson & Johnson stock.
Johnson & Johnson created the single-shot vaccine that government officials recently warned — in rare instances — was linked to a neurological side effect called Guillain-Barré syndrome. The company also had to recall five Neutrogena and Aveeno spray-on sunscreen products after finding traces of cancer-causing ingredients.
Rep. Bill Keating, a Democrat of Massachusetts, bought up to $15,000 in Adobe stock on June 10 and that same day sold up to $15,000 in Verisign stock.
Boozman likes J&J, too. And Pfizer.
During 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Sen. John Boozman, a Republican of Arkansas, held stock investments in the pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson, his newly filed annual financial disclosure indicates.
Both companies developed COVID-19 vaccines that have been widely used in the US and beyond. Each of Boozman’s investments was worth $1,001 to $15,000, according to his disclosure.
Separate stock-trade disclosures indicate that Boozman sold Pfizer stock on January 22 and Johnson & Johnson stock on May 3, though it’s unclear whether he sold all of his shares or only a portion.
For Grijalva, no gold to see here
Complying with arcane federal transparency laws can be tricky, even for those who make laws.
Rep. Raúl Grijalva, a Democrat from Arizona, on July 14 disclosed that his wife last year purchased, then sold for a small profit, an investment in SPDR Gold Trust. As its name suggests, the investment involves the shiny precious metal.
On its face, Grijalva’s disclosure appeared to be months late — well beyond the 45 days members of Congress have by law to publicly report their stock trades.
But Grijalva did nothing wrong. SPDR Gold Trust is an exchange-traded fund, not an individual stock. Exchange-traded funds, as well as mutual funds, are exempt from the 45-day disclosure provision. Federal law requires that lawmakers disclose these funds only in their more detailed annual filings, which this year are due in August.
Bottom line? Grijalva disclosed an investment he needn’t disclose in the fashion that he did.
The SPDR Gold Trust trades were “reported in error as a stock in Congressman Grijalva’s periodic transaction report,” the spokesperson Geoff Nolan said, adding that the report, “has since been amended to account for the error.”