Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA), who briefly ran for president during Election 2020, has violated a federal conflicts-of-interest and transparency law by improperly disclosing two of his wife's stock trades, a Raw Story analysis of congressional financial disclosures indicates.
On Friday, Moulton disclosed to Congress that his wife in September sold up to $100,000 worth of stock in gaming company Activision Blizzard and in August purchased up to $15,000 worth of stock in Amazon.com.
Moulton should have disclosed the stock trades 45 days after the trades were made — in early autumn, according to the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act, which Congress passed a decade ago to curb lawmakers' inside trading, defend against conflicts-of-interest and enhance public transparency.
A spokesperson for Moulton, who's served in Congress since 2014, told Raw Story that the late disclosure was a "mistake" that the congressman will immediately rectify.
“Like a lot of families with two working spouses, the congressman’s family finances can sometimes be complex," Moulton spokesperson Sydney Simon said Monday in an email. "A portion of his wife’s salary is paid in stocks, which they occasionally sell. They have sought guidance on this from both the Ethics Committee and outside counsel to ensure that they’re following all current rules. This particular instance, while a bit embarrassing, is simply a mistake — a deadline oversight that was quickly rectified when caught. Congressman Moulton will be paying the late fee when he gets to Washington later today.”
The standard fine for a late stock trade disclosure of this sort is $200, per the STOCK Act.
Moulton is the latest in a litany of lawmakers to violate the STOCK Act's disclosure provisions.
On Friday, Raw Story reported that Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) was several days late disclosing that he had sold personal stock in an energy company and pair of federal defense contractors. Dozens of other lawmakers have similarly blown past federal disclosure rules, only to face minimal — if any — consequences.
News organizations including the New York Times, Insider, NPR and Sludge have also documented rampant financial conflicts of interests among dozens of members of Congress, such as those who bought and sold defense contractor stock while occupying positions on congressional armed services committees or otherwise voting on measures to send such companies billions of federal dollars. The executive and judicial branches are riddled with similar financial conflict issues, too, as the Wall Street Journal has reported.
A plan to enact a congressional stock-trade ban failed during the 2021-2022 congressional session after Democratic House leaders declined to bring any of several existing bills — including one floated by House leaders themselves — up for a vote.
But this year, a bipartisan group members of Congress, including Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO), are renewing efforts to ban federal lawmakers and their spouses from trading stocks altogether. Cryptocurrency trades are also a target.
Simon, Moulton's spokesperson, said the Massachusetts congressman supports such a congressional stock ban "in principle".