Freshman Congresswoman Donna Shalala, D-Fla., newly appointed to oversee the Trump administration's handling of $2 trillion in taxpayer funds to fight the effects of the coronavirus, failed to report she sold a variety of stocks throughout 2018 and 2019 as required by the STOCK Act, reports the Miami Herald.
Under the 2012 STOCK Act, members of Congress have 45 days to disclose stock transactions to the Clerk of the House. Those disclosures are publicly listed in a "periodic transaction report."
Shalala has not filed a PTR since entering Congress in January 2019.
American Prospect first pointed out Shalala's conflict of interest in joining the bailout oversight panel, citing her ownership in companies likely to be at the front of a bailout amid the pandemic, including Boeing, Alaska Airlines, Spirit Aerosystems, Paramount, Live Nation, and AMC Theaters.
Shalala told the Herald on Monday she began selling individual stocks immediately after filing to run for Congress in March 2018 to "eliminate any potential conflicts of interest between her public office and her private business interests," per the newspaper.
She also set up a blind trust for her assets and transferred her individual stock holdings into diversified investments like mutual funds and ETFs, according to her chief of staff.
"The process of doing a blind trust in the House of Representatives is a complicated one, and she was in constant contact with the Ethics Committee," said Jessica Killin, Shalala's chief of staff. "In the meantime, in a complete abundance of caution, she divested and sold almost all of her individual stock holdings and transferred them to mutual funds and [exchange-traded funds.]"
Shalala's office said the congresswoman made a mistake.
"She had a misunderstanding about the periodic transaction report process and her need to report the sale of these stocks while preparing a blind trust," Shalala spokesperson Carlos Condarco said. "As a new member with a broker and attorney who were not familiar with the congressional disclosure rules, there was a misunderstanding."
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