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Top New York lawmakers run afoul of federal STOCK Act

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A string of top New York pols ran afoul of a law requiring federal lawmakers to disclose their stock trades in a timely manner, a review of records by The Post shows.

The 2012 Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act requires disclosure of all equity trades by members of Congress within 45 days. The STOCK Act is intended as a check against members engaging in insider trading, or buying and selling stocks based on information that isn’t available to the public.

The penalties for Stock Act violations are small — typically $200 for a first offense.

Some believe members of Congress should be banned from trading entirely — including AOC.

“Members of Congress should not be trading individual stocks, period. It’s wrong,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez told The Post.

“If a member wants to invest, there are plenty of tools at their disposal to do that without actual or appeared conflict of interest, like general index funds or the same retirement savings accounts extended to us as other federal employees and military,” the Queens Democrat added.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez believes members of Congress should be banned from trading entirely.
Getty Images

House Democratic boss Nancy Pelosi defended bloated member stock portfolios in a press conference Thursday. “We’re a free-market economy,” Pelosi told reporters. Members of Congress “should be able to participate in that.”

Leading the pack of Empire State violators was Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove). From 2017 to 2020, the congressman — now aspiring to be governor — made roughly 300 stock trades with a value ranging from $3.2 million to $11 million, according to a review by the nonprofit Campaign Legal Center. The holdings ran the gamut from blue chips like Citigroup and AT&T to Chinese search engine Baidu.

Throughout this period Suozzi failed to file periodic transaction reports, which the STOCK Act requires for each transaction.

Nancy Pelosi
Nancy Pelosi said members of Congress should be able to participate in the ‘free market economy.’
Rod Lamkey – CNP / Avalon

The center asked the Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate Suozzi. “When members of Congress trade individual stocks and fail to disclose those trades, they break the law and diminish the public’s trust in government,” the center’s letter stated.

The OCE declined to comment.

“The congressman’s investments are managed through independent advisors with discretion over all transactions,” Suozzi’s chief of staff Mike Florio said. “Every transaction has been reported on his annual financial disclosure, and all proper periodic disclosures have now been be filed and will continue to be going forward.”

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-Cold Spring) had his run-in with the Stock Act when he sold shares in eight companies in June 2020, which he received as part of an inheritance from his mother’s estate. The $11,051 disclosure — which included Apple, Microsoft and BlackRock stocks — came nine months outside the legal window. Like Suozzi, Maloney too earned an ethics complaint. this one from the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, Business Insider reported.

Rep. Sean Maloney
Rep. Sean Maloney sold shares in eight companies in June 2020.
Ron Sachs – CNP

“As soon as this oversight was discovered, this filing was submitted to provide full transparency into that sale,” Maloney said in a statement amended to the tardy filing.

Rep. Brian Higgins (D-Buffalo) was an original co-sponsor of the STOCK Act, but nevertheless fell into its crosshairs after he was busted for waiting 11 months to disclose three stock sales valued at up to $115,000.

“Well, it’s on me. I made a mistake by neglecting to file a timely periodic transition report for several trades I made last fall,” Higgins told The Buffalo News. “I take full responsibility for it, I will pay whatever fine is associated with that mistake and I will make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

Rep. Tom Suozzi
Rep. Tom Suozzi was one of the original co-signers on the STOCK Act.
CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Imag

Another upstate member, Chris Jacobs — a Republican backbencher — was also late to disclose 13 trades worth up to $865,000.

“As part of a review during the preparation of Congressman Jacobs’ annual financial disclosure, and based on guidance from the House Ethics Committee, the determination was made that these transactions should be submitted on a periodic transaction report,” a spokesman for Jacobs told Forbes.



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