An ethics expert raised concerns over Democrat Sen. Michael Bennet’s (D-CO) recent comments during a television appearance where he appeared to imply that he makes financial investments based on actions taken in the U.S. Senate.
During an appearance on Bloomberg’s Balance of Power, Bennet appeared to imply he would not make any financial investments until he knows exactly what will be done in the Senate with the Manchin-Schumer “Inflation Reduction” Bill. Although, if he did, he is legally required to report any transactions over $1,000 within 30 to 45 days.
“I feel good about it. I feel optimistic about it. I’m not buying or selling any stocks based on [the reconciliation bill] because we don’t know where Senator Sinema is going to be,” the senator said during his appearance.
Did @MichaelBennet just admit that he makes investments based on legislation that’s being negotiated in the Senate?
“I’m not buying or selling any stocks based on [the reconciliation bill] because we don’t know where Sen. Sinema is going to be.” pic.twitter.com/nXZ7D3vwF2
— NRSC Rapid Response (@NRSC_Rapid) August 2, 2022
Bennet mentioned Sinema, as she and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) typically hold out until the very end of negotiations before they decide how to vote on massive pieces of legislation. It was reported recently that Sinema was unaware of Manchin’s talks to revive the reconciliation bill and only found out when the press announced it.
Despite what the senator stated on television, Bennet’s campaign office tried to walk back his claims when asked by Fox News Digital if he had considered private Senate discussions before making investments.
“No, of course not,” Bennet’s Colorado campaign spokesperson Georgina Beven told Fox before claiming that Republicans such as Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Bennet’s opponent Joe O’Dea are trying to “desperately distort Michael’s observation that the Inflation Reduction Act remains a work in progress.”
Beven added that it remains a work in progress because the Republicans “oppose this effort to lower drug costs for working people, fight inflation, reduce the deficit, and close tax loopholes for hedge fund managers and the biggest corporations.”
The spokesperson added that Bennet also does not control his investments, as a Denver asset manager manages them.
However, Kendra Arnold, the executive director of the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust — a federal ethics watchdog — exclusively told Breitbart News that the senator’s remarks on television raised a red flag as lawmakers are supposed to uphold “high ethical standards when they take office.”
“Senator Bennet’s comments raise a red flag when it comes to how Members trade stocks in response to legislation,” Arnold said. Members are sworn to hold themselves to high ethical standards when they take office, and I certainly hope Senator Bennet is not selling and buying stocks based off of any legislation ever.”
She also noted that “Thankfully, we have a system in place where Members have to disclose their stock transactions, and if his disclosure reports indicate he is doing so, then I encourage an investigation.”
As Arnold mentioned, Bennet, like every other lawmaker, under federal law — the Ethics in Government Act of 1978 (EIGA) — is required to file Financial Disclosure Statements with the Clerk of the House of Representatives, which are due annually on May 15 for the previous year. The statements, filled out correctly, show what stocks each person holds in addition to sources of income.
Furthermore, like every other lawmaker, the senator must submit a periodic transaction report within 30 to 45 days of stock transactions over $1,000 made on their behalf or on behalf of their spouses under the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act of 2012.
The STOCK Act was a bipartisan bill that banned insider trading by members of Congress and was signed into law by President Barack Obama on April 4, 2012. The legislation received overwhelming support from both parties.
In 2011, Breitbart News senior contributor and Government Accountability Institute (GAI) President Peter Schweizer rocked official Washington with his investigative revelations of insider trading by members of Congress. Left-leaning Slate hailed Schweizer’s blockbuster book on the topic, Throw Them All Out, as “the book that started the STOCK Act stampede.”
One of the main figures featured in Schweizer’s Throw Them All Out was then-chairman of the House Financial Services Committee Spencer Bachus (R-AL), who announced he would not seek reelection after the book’s reporting.
Indeed, Bachus was the only elected official the late Andrew Breitbart ever called on to resign. CBS’s 60 Minutes did an investigative report on Schweizer’s revelations that won them the Joan Shorenstein Barone Award for excellence in Washington-based journalism.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) quickly responded to Bennet for implying he was waiting for Sinema’s decision on a bill to take financial action.
“Someone should ask Michael Bennet why he believes it’s ok for him to benefit off of his position in the U.S. Senate, especially after bragging about banning members of Congress from trading stocks,” NRSC spokesman T.W. Arrighi said in a statement. “It’s clear to anyone paying attention that Michael Bennet is one of the biggest hypocrites in Congress.”