When Representative Tom Suzzi (D-NY) appeared before congressional investigators earlier this year to explain why he had not disclosed hundreds of stock trades in time, the Long Island congressman who is currently running for governor had quite the explanation.
Suozzi actually told investigators he was too busy to handle the “formalities” to report hundreds of trades – in fact he blamed the Ethics Office for not sending him constant reminders or issuing a dedicated compliance officer.
“Honestly, we have a lot going on in Congress. I have a lot of other things going on. And that’s not the case – ethics are a huge priority to me. But … some formalities aren’t necessarily something I would prioritize,” the congressman said, according to deposition text.
Besides, he hired someone else to trade the shares on his behalf, so he didn’t think he needed to report every time he bought and sold shares in dozens of companies.
“I had the impression that I was [broker-directed] The accounts they traded at their discretion, and my requirement was to fill out an annual disclosure. And I fill out an annual statement each year,” he told congressional investigators this year.
In his testimony, Suozzi told investigators that he had left trading to an independent stockbroker, who – he believed – had somehow excused him from the requirement to show when shares were bought or sold.
For example, when Suozzi’s stockbroker bought over $50,000 of Tesla stock in March 2021 – and when the broker sold just the next month, just like a fellow Members of Congress are starting to raise concerns Regarding the company’s autopilot feature – Suozzi was obligated to disclose that information within 45 days. he did not do.
Suozzi was one of three members of Congress who were abandoned last week when the House Ethics Committee –Notorious for taking no action In all of the most egregious violations – their failure to report stock trades was considered innocent mistakes.
In a statement issued July 29, the bipartisan Ethics Committee formally declared that “there was no clear evidence that the errors and omissions…were knowingly or deliberately, and that members were generally not clear about the requirements.”
When investigation documents were actually published three days later, it became clear that Suozzi remained defiant when he was forced to confront his own mistakes earlier this year – and made some new defenses.
During a virtual session with ethics attorneys in the House of Representatives on January 12, attorney Omar Ashmawi asked Congressman if changes could be made to help politicians make their disclosures when they are supposed to.
Suozzi suggested that each member of Congress should have their own ethical advisor.
“Well, I think there is [sic] Only 435 members of Congress answered. “And so I think every member of Congress should have someone from the Ethics Office who’s responsible for that member. So like everyone has their own employee. And that employee should be, you know, responsible for saying, ‘Hey, you know, you didn’t take your class And you didn’t report, you didn’t do this, you didn’t do that. “
That didn’t sit well with former House ethics attorney Kedrick Payne at the legal center of the campaign, a watchdog nonprofit that first summoned Suozzi for a complete lack of stock trading. Transparency extends for five years.
“His interpretation does not pass the smell test. This is the most straightforward rule. Report your stock deals,” Payne told the Daily Beast.
current rules They require that any Congressional politician – and some employees – report any stock trading of more than $1,000 within 45 days. But Suozzi, like many others in Congress, completely neglected the rules.
It wasn’t until September 22, 2021, when the legal center of the campaign was called him out– Plus six other members of Congress – Suzy noticed her. The next day, submit a “periodic transaction report”, a Giant 50 pages It represents more than 400 stock trades dating back to his first week in Congress four years ago.
“Do you see how fast he can do it?” Payne asked. “He didn’t have time to report, but he prioritizes trading this amount of shares.”
Records show ongoing buying and selling of dozens of different types of stocks, from automakers like Ford and General Motors to chip makers like AMD and NVIDIA.
Suozzi’s office did not respond to a request for comment on Friday.
In his testimony before investigators, the congressman emphasized that he believed it was sufficient to provide year-end reports that reflect his investment portfolio. While year-end reports reflect the shares a politician generally owns, they do not show the many purchases and sales that occur throughout the year, nor do they always indicate when a member bought or sold shares.
The congressman was publicly summoned by the Legal Campaign Center after extensive research by the researcher there, Sophia Gonsalves-Brown, who examined every member of Congress and compared annual disclosures to determine when some stocks appeared to be disappearing. The non-profit organization File a formal complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics, that anyone can do Fill out a form.
But last week that complaint fizzled out, when the House Ethics Committee issued any formal reprimands for Suzzi and two others for failing to report on time: Rep. Pat Fallon (R-Texas) and Rep. Chris Jacobs (R-NY).
The Daily Beast tried to review the excuses it had for not submitting the reports, but the testimony was not available to any of the members of Congress. According to committee staff, Congressman Fallon “chose not to cooperate, and therefore no statement has been made.” Meanwhile, any formal interview with Jacobs is not publicly available because the Ethics Board, which is separate from the committee and chaired by former Congressman Mike Barnes, has been deadlocked over whether or not the investigation should proceed. The House of Representatives is not subject to public records laws.
Fallon and Jacobs’ congressional offices did not respond to requests for comment.
Stock law violations by these politicians come at a crucial time, when the law is under scrutiny for not going far enough to ensure that politicians do not abuse their positions of power to personally enrich themselves with the sensitive information they receive as members of Congress.
Senator John Osoff (D-GA) called for Ban members of Congress completely of stock trading. Others joined the struggle to prevent politicians from making personal gains, especially since so many of them get away with it. For example, the Ministry of Justice in the end drop his achievement On How Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) Sold up to $1.7 million in stock After personally reassuring the American public that the country is prepared to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
At this point, there are several House and Senate bills aimed at preventing politicians from trading stocks in one way or another. But none of them got a vote, even though Democrats are quietly trying to force House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to move forward with a consensual bill.
However, failure to take action resulted in New York times The editorial board says:Members of Congress should not trade stocks at allInsider has launched their own tool calledConflicting Congress“to track the lack of transparency.
Meanwhile, the House Ethics Committee is experiencing some turmoil. Republican Representative Jackie Wallorsky (Republic-N) died in a two-car crash in her hometown on Wednesday.