Two complaints have been filed against Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-NJ) after reports surfaced that he bought securities at low prices, then profited after their value soared during the pandemic — and allegedly did not properly disclose his actions. He also reportedly sold shares before they plummeted.
In April 2020, Malinowski, who served as Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor with the Obama Administration starting in 2014, told MSNBC, “This is not the time for anybody to be profiting off of selling ventilators, vaccines, drugs, treatments, PPE (personal protective equipment), anywhere in the world,” as The Associated Press noted.
“Since early 2020, Malinowski has bought or sold as much as $1 million of stock in medical and tech companies that had a stake in the virus response, according to an analysis of records by The Associated Press,” the news agency reported. “The trades were just one slice of a stock buying and selling spree by the congressman during that time, worth as much as $3.2 million, that he did not properly disclose.”
President George W. Bush’s ethics attorney Richard Painter told AP, “It boggles my mind why he’s doing it. It’s a huge conflict of interest and not an acceptable situation.”
AP stressed that there is “no indication Malinowski acted on inside information to make his investment decisions,” but cautioned that it is “difficult to assess the full scope of his financial activity,” as almost six months after the year ended “mandatory reports to Congress detailing his trades have not been made public.”
Malinowski said of not filing a disclosure that it is “a mistake that I own 100%,” although he claimed the reports were ultimately submitted. He also stated that his broker decides what trades he makes and he is unaware of specific transactions. “At no point in the last 25 years have I directed, suggested, or even asked questions about a particular trade being made by my brokerage firm,” he said, allowing that the one exception was when he was asked to sell stock after he started at the State Department.
Painter countered, “Of course he is going to say his broker makes all the decisions.”
AP reports that Malinowski’s office provided a statement from his trading firm provided a statement saying that the trades were made “without Congressman Malinowski’s input or prior knowledge.”
In 2012, Congress passed the Stock Act, which stated that it required “specified individuals to file reports within 30 to 45 days after receiving notice of a purchase, sale, or exchange which exceeds $1,000 in stocks, bonds, commodities futures, and other forms of securities and subject to any waivers and exclusions.”
Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) commented, “I don’t know that you should be buying and selling stock when the people we represent are facing what will invariably be the most horrific and challenging years of their lives. If you are not willing to make certain sacrifices to be in public service, then perhaps there might be a different job that’s best for you.”
AP highlighted another ethical complaint involving Malinowski, when he was an assistant secretary of state during the Obama administration. After being confirmed to the position in 2014, Malinowski agreed to sell shares held in a Chinese insurance company because it posed a “heightened prospect of a conflict of interest,” yet the stock “remained in his portfolio for over a year, well beyond a 90-day window to sell that he agreed to, records show.”
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