The Campaign Legal Center (CLC), a group with Democrat interests, filed a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics calling for an investigation into Rep. Cindy Axne, the lone Iowa Congressional Democrat, for allegedly violating the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act of 2012 and House ethics rules.
The complaint stated that in 2019 and 2020, Axne “appears to have purchased and sold more than 40 assets with a total value ranging from approximately $43,043 to $645,000 without disclosing the transactions,” noting that while the congresswoman “disclosed the ownership of these assets on her annual financial disclosures” she allegedly “did not file any corresponding periodic transaction reports (“PTRs”).”
Axne’s asset changes happened to occur when the congresswoman sat on the House Committee on Financial Services, and the complaint noted that her assets included Visa, Mastercard, Wells Fargo, and SS&C Technology Holdings. CLC said that due to her alleged lack of PTRs, the ethics office should investigate to “determine whether the differences in Rep. Axne’s 2019 and 2020 reports are the result of reportable transactions,” which is a violation of the STOCK Act and the House rules:
Campaign Legal Center (“CLC”) respectfully requests that the Office of Congressional Ethics (“OCE”) investigate Rep. Cynthia (“Cindy”) Axne for a possible violation of the STOCK Act and House rules. In 2019 and 2020, Rep. Axne appears to have purchased and sold more than 40 assets with a total value ranging from approximately $43,043 to $645,000 without disclosing the transactions. While Rep. Axne disclosed the ownership of these assets on her annual financial disclosures, she did not file any corresponding periodic transaction reports (“PTRs”). A preliminary OCE investigation is required to determine whether the differences in Rep. Axne’s 2019 and 2020 reports are the result of reportable transactions. If so, Rep. Axne would have been required to file PTRs pursuant to the STOCK Act and House rules.
The STOCK Act does not excuse failing to file PTRs for reportable transactions, yet members of Congress are avoiding scrutiny of the nature of their stock trades by not timely disclosing the transactions throughout the year. Instead, they disclose the ownership of assets in their annual reports without disclosing the underlying transaction at the time the transaction occurred. This trend could quickly defeat one of the purposes of the STOCK Act, which is real time disclosure of potential conflicts of interest.
“If members are not held accountable for failing to file PTRs, many will continue to wait until their annual financial disclosures to reveal stock trades and pay nominal late fees, thereby circumventing the STOCK Act,” the left-leaning group added in their complaint.
CLC noted that they “respectfully request” the office to “open a preliminary review to determine whether Rep. Axne’s nondisclosure was an intentional violation of the STOCK Act and House rules.”
Breitbart News reported on the STOCK Act, which requires members to file periodic financial disclosure reports when trades are over $1,000. Axne’s trades would fall into the category:
Members are supposed to file “full and complete” financial disclosure reports of themselves and the members’ spouse’s assets, debts, and income, in addition to the filing “periodic reports” when transactions are made that exceed $1,000. Every member is required to do so within 30 to 45 days of the transaction.
The STOCK Act passed Congress and was signed into law in 2012 after getting substantial bipartisan support in both chambers. The legislation was introduced and quickly signed into law thanks to Breitbart News senior contributor Peter Schweizer, who in 2011 released Throw Them All Out, exposing corruption in the highest echelons of elected life:
Schweizer’s book, which exposed Pelosi along with many others, revealed corruption concerns among both Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill, forcing Congress into adopting the STOCK Act that implemented stricter reporting and ethics requirements.
Since the STOCK Act’s adoption, Axne has become the 12th known Democrat nationwide serving in federal elected office that has been accused of violating the rules under the law.
Axne is a vulnerable member who Republicans are looking to unseat in the upcoming midterm elections.
National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Mike Berg said, “Iowans will hold Cindy Axne accountable for breaking the law and trying to hide her shady stock transactions from the public.”
“Cindy Axne was a member of the Financial Services Committee when she tried to illegally hide these stock trades,” said Jeff Kaufmann, chairman of the Republican Party in Axne’s home state, after the news broke of the ethics investigation into Axne’s allegedly hiding stock trades.
He added, “No matter what her pathetic excuse is, it is clear: Axne hid hundreds of thousands of dollars from public scrutiny. While Iowans are trying to make every dollar count, Axne is getting richer behind their backs.”
Follow Jacob Bliss on Twitter @jacobmbliss.