Former Democrat Rep. Harley Rouda (CA), while in office last year, missed federally mandated deadlines that require congressional representatives to report stock trades, according to a report.
The Orange County Register reported Rouda missed the deadline to disclose trades his wife made, selling off six shares of Amazon and Tesla while he was in office last year. Rouda, who lost to now-Rep. Michelle Steel (R-CA) last year, is looking to retake the seat in 2022. Rouda’s spokesperson told the Register that the former congressman did not learn about the trades until after leaving office.
The spokesperson noted Rouda “voluntarily filed” a disclosure form to show what he missed. The trades were valued at less than $45,000 total, and according to his “23-page financial disclosure report he filed in May.”
Although the trades do not appear to have been exceptionally profitable, the Register pointed out that this comes at a time when lawmakers face greater scrutiny over their financial dealings due to potentially “profiting on information about the pandemic that was not initially shared with the public.”
There has been a growing urge to mandate congressmen divest from all of their stock holdings while in office. Craig Holman, a campaign finance reform lobbyist for Public Citizen, a think tank, helped write the stock trading law on transparency. He said, “They are supposed to know the rules.” He added, “It’s something the ethics committee should look into and make sure members of Congress know that they’re watching.”
Holman also said that due to the “low dollar amounts,” he doubts Rouda will get any fines or criminal penalties. Holman still would like to have the House Ethics Committee investigate since he believes companies that congress is looking into, like Apple and Telsa, should face stricter regulation.
The STOCK Act, which passed in 2012, mandates congressional members to report all stock transactions above $1,000 or more within 45 days to prevent members from using public office from getting rich.
The Register further explained Rouda’s family’s transactions:
In early 2020, Rouda’s son showed Rouda’s wife, Kaira Rouda, how to use the stock trading app Robinhood, according to a spokesman for Rouda’s campaign. Kaira Rouda ended up using the app in late May and early June 2020 for three trades: to buy and then sell up to $15,000 in Amazon stock and to sell up to $15,000 in Tesla stock. Business Insider first reported Rouda did not disclose the trades within the required 45-day window. Rouda’s campaign on Tuesday declined to share the exact amount of the trades (which are listed as ranges of $1,001 to $15,000 on disclosure forms) but insisted they were “far below” $15,000 each.
The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), a non-partisan ethics watchdog, recently filed a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) regarding Democrat Rep. Tom Malinowski’s (NJ) alleged violations of the same federal law.
Holman stated that there has yet to be a member of the House or Senate sanctioned for violating the STOCK Act, adding “The consequences have largely been political.”