Democratic Sen. Tom Carper violated a federal conflicts-of-interest law by failing to properly disclose his wife's gold mining investment
Tom Carperwas months late disclosing one of his wife's stock trades.
- The late disclosure violates the federal
Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act.
Democratic Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware violated a federal conflicts-of-interest law by improperly disclosing his wife's sale of stock in a gold mining company, Insider has learned.
Carper's wife, Martha Ann Stacy, on November 26 sold between $1,001 and $15,000 worth of stock in the Barrick Gold Corp., an international mining company, according to a congressional financial disclosure he filed on May 4. Carper's office told Insider the exact value of the stock sale was $1,124.
The disclosure, which comes as
Members of Congress face a minimum $200 fine for an initial violation of the
Carper's office acknowledged the violation after Insider inquired about the senator's disclosure. A "simple clerical error" caused the late disclosure, Carper spokesperson Rachel Levitan said in an email.
"Immediately upon being made aware of this error, Senator Carper reported the transaction to rectify the situation," Levitan said. "Sen. Carper is working with the Ethics Committee so he can fully resolve this matter."
Levitan noted that Carper and Stacy "have always been careful to ensure that their financial investments are handled separately by a financial advisor who makes decisions and transactions independently" and "fully supports ongoing conversations in Congress on how to strengthen the [STOCK Act] and improve transparency and accountability for our elected officials."
Carper, who was first elected to the Senate in 2000, has not to date created for himself what's known as a qualified blind trust — a formal arrangement, requiring congressional approval, in which a lawmaker officially transfers management of their financial assets to an independent trustee.
While Senate guidance suggests the trusts provide the "most comprehensive approach" to avoiding "potential conflicts of interest or the appearance of such conflicts," they can be expensive and time-consuming to establish, and only a handful of lawmakers have done so.
Carper or his wife own various individual stocks, recently investing in such companies as chemical company Dow Inc., Google parent Alphabet Inc., pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson, oil company Royal Dutch Shell, and Elon Musk-led Tesla Inc., according to his most recent annual personal financial disclosure.
Carper is also chairman of the Senate Finance Subcommittee on International Trade, Customs, and Global Competitiveness.
Dozens of STOCK Act violators
At least 60 members of Congress have violated the STOCK Act, according to reporting since last year by Insider and other news organizations.
Sens. Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat from California; Tommy Tuberville, a Republican from Alabama; Roger Marshall, a Republican from Kansas; Rand Paul, a Republican from Kentucky; Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat from Rhode Island; Mark Kelly, a Democrat from Arizona; and Cynthia Lummis, a Republican from Wyoming, are other senators who, to one extent or another, have broken the STOCK Act's disclosure rules in recent months.
The easiest way for Carper or any federal lawmaker to avoid conflicts of interest and STOCK Act violations is to not trade individual stocks at all, said Dylan Hedtler-Gaudette, government affairs manager for nonpartisan watchdog organization Project on Government Oversight.
"While the dollar amounts and timeframe here aren't astronomical, the simple fact is that Senator Carper broke the law by not reporting this transaction as he is required to under the STOCK Act," Hedtler-Gaudette said. "The root problem at issue is that members of Congress and their immediate family are allowed to trade stocks at all, given the inherent conflicts of interest and potential for corruption that goes along with it."
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