Peter Welch Vows to Stop Trading Stocks After Receiving Ethics Complaint

Rep. Peter Welch on CNN, 9/11/2019
(Screenshot/CNN)

Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) reiterated his 2020 pledge to stop trading stocks after violating the STOCK Act when he disclosed his wife’s ExxonMobil trades a week late and received an ethics complaint stating he knew about the trades days before grilling the oil company’s CEO.

“Rep. Welch has decided to no longer own individual stocks,” said Welch’s communications director, Arianna Jones, to Business Insider. The statement reiterated a similar pledge he made in 2020 when he was accused of insider trading. However, the congressman’s chief of staff, Patrick Satalin, clarified to Insider that this pledge includes his wife, Margaret Cheney. The Democrat’s pledge was supported by a periodic transaction report that showed he sold off the rest of the stock he claims to have owned.

The move by Welch was in response to an Insider report that showed Welch — who is currently running for the open senate seat in Vermont after Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) announced he would not seek a ninth term — broke the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act of 2012 when he admittedly was one week late in disclosing his wife’s sale of $6,238 worth of ExxonMobil shares sold in September that she inherited through her mother’s estate.

Under the STOCK Act, he is required to submit a periodic transaction report with the clerk in the House of Representatives within 30 to 45 days after he or his wife makes transactions over $1,000, which was done when his wife sold the ExxonMobil stock.

Breitbart News has reported Cheney sold the thousands of dollars in ExxonMobil stock on September 17, when the last possible day for the congressman to disclose would have been November 1. Welch at the time said he learned on October 25 that his wife had previously made the trades, giving him an ample amount of time to report the trades within the allotted time limit. However, Welsch did not file a periodic transaction report with the clerk of the House until November 9.

But three days after he learned of the trades on October 28, Welch “grilled” the company’s CEO during a congressional hearing for the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. The congressman, who has criticized ExxonMobil for years, accused the company of withholding information about climate change and having a credibility issue.

Due to all of this, the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), a conservative ethics watchdog organization, filed a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) asking for a probe into Welch’s stock transactions after reports surfaced of his failures to disclose the ExxonMobil stock sales on time. FACT’s complaint said:

The failure of Members to follow the most basic ethics rules they created leads to public distrust in our elected officials as a whole. Moreover, the lack of any consequence for Members who break the law leads to the public perception that the laws do not apply equally to all.

In a press release, FACT’s Executive Director, Kendra Arnold, acknowledged that he has been in Congress for nearly 15 years and is “well aware” of the reporting requirements. Arnold added:

What makes this case egregious, beyond the violation itself, is that his office acknowledged that he knew of the transaction prior to the reporting deadline and not only missed it, but grilled the ExxonMobil CEO about transparency and credibility just days later.

Jones also acknowledged that Welch is a “long-standing supporter of ethics reform and transparency in government” and a supporter of the Ban Conflicted Trading Act, which was introduced in March and would prohibit members of Congress from buying and selling individual stocks. The Act has yet to receive a hearing.

In 2012, Congress quickly passed the STOCK Act and signed it into law after it received substantial bipartisan support in both chambers. The legislation was introduced and promptly 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 House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and many others, revealed corruption concerns among Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill, forcing Congress into adopting the STOCK Act that implemented stricter reporting and ethics requirements.

With only a year into the current 117th Congress, there have already been over 15 Democrats serving who have been accused of violating the STOCK Act, many of whom have had ethics complaints sent to the OCE asking for an investigation.

Jacob Bliss is a reporter for Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter.

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