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Sen. Casey Tight-Lipped Over Potential Stock Sale Reporting Violation

This article first appeared in Broad + Liberty

Sen. Bob Casey (D) is refusing to add any explanation or clarification to his legally required disclosure of a stock sale which clearly appears to have been filed well outside of the mandatory 45-day reporting window.

The delayed reporting raises numerous ethical questions, especially given that in between the transaction and the time it was reported to the Senate Ethics Office, a subsidiary of the energy company in question was telling Energy Secretary Rick Perry a potential bankruptcy was likely and requested federal assistance to help keep some of its power plants operating.

The Senate ethics disclosure site shows Casey filed the “periodic transaction” report in May 2018, establishing that a dependent child of his sold somewhere between $1,000 and $15,000 worth of stock in FirstEnergy Corp. The website also shows, however, that the sale occurred eight months earlier on Aug. 31, 2017.

The STOCK Act, signed into law in 2012, updated previous ethics laws, and requires certain federal elected officials “to file reports within 30 to 45 days after receiving notice of a purchase, sale, or exchange which exceeds $1,000 in stock[.]”

For a stock sale conducted on Aug. 31, 2017, that transaction would need to have been reported by Oct. 15, 2017 to be compliant.

Requests for comment by Broad + Liberty to Casey’s office seeking an explanation of the delayed disclosure were not returned.

FirstEnergy was enduring a period of incredible turmoil in 2017. Rumors swirled for months that one of its subsidiaries, FirstEnergy Solutions, was nearing bankruptcy.

That potential bankruptcy wasn’t all bad for the parent company, however. Some analysts were upgrading their forecasts for the parent company FirstEnergy on the news.

In March 2018, FirstEnergy and its subsidiary notified the federal government it intended to close three of its nuclear power plants, two in Ohio and one in Pennsylvania. Days later, FirstEnergy Solutions made its bankruptcy filing.

“This disclosure law, as well as Senators’ compliance with accurate and timely filing of all required disclosures, is extremely important because it is the only mechanism to determine whether a Senator has a conflict of interest or is wrongfully profiting from their position,” said Kendra Arnold, executive director of Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, a DC-based nonprofit focused on transparency and ethics.

“It’s important to note that the Senators’ spouse and dependent children’s financial information are essentially treated as that of the Senator because the Senator may benefit from or actually control those assets,” she added.

“When a Senator does not file accurate or timely information it becomes very difficult, if not impossible, to determine whether the Senator’s personal finances influenced his official actions or the Senator used nonpublic information to profit. The Senator is already given a 30 or 45 day grace period to disclose and there is no excuse for late filings,” Arnold concluded.

Arnold also said given that the late disclosure was years old, it was unlikely that the Senate Ethics Office would investigate.

The late disclosure was first reported by the conservative website Breitbart, which also noted that a FirstEnergy political action committee donated $19,000 to Casey’s campaign committee starting in 2010. The last donation came in January 2018, after the stock sale had happened but the disclosure had not.

FirstEnergy would later go on to become embroiled in one of the largest bribery scandals in U.S. history that involved Ohio elected officials and in no way touched upon Casey.

“Federal prosecutors say that between March 2017 and March 2020, entities related to an unnamed company — but that would appear to be nuclear power company FirstEnergy Solutions — paid approximately $60 million” to a nonprofit controlled by the then-Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder, NPR reported.

Through all of this turmoil, however, FirstEnergy’s stock price made a bullish run from the start of 2018 to the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in the spring of 2020.

Delco Rep. Scanlon Caught Violating STOCK Act

Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon violated the federal conflict-of-interest law with late reporting of her husband’s stock trades.

According to Business Insider, Scanlon’s husband sold four stocks in February 2021 collectively worth up to $95,000, and exchanged up to $15,000 in shares of DuPont de Nemours early that same month.  Scanlon did not file a disclosure form until Aug. 12, 2022. However, trades of more than $1,000 must be reported within 45 days under the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act of 2012.

The law is supposed to help prevent representatives and senators from enriching themselves via insider information they glean while serving in Congress. Many have become millionaires while serving the public.

Scanlon (D-Delaware/Philadelphia), a lawyer, was first elected in 2018 after  Republican Rep. Pat Meehan stepped down amid a scandal. She won both a special election and general election for that seat.

“In preparing her most recent financial disclosure report, Rep. Scanlon discovered that certain transactions in her husband’s retirement account, which is managed by a financial advisor who has discretion over the account, had not been reported in a previous filing,” said her spokeswoman Carina Figliuzzi. “Rep. Scanlon was unaware of these transactions and took immediate action to report them, pay the $200 late fee, and implement additional procedures to ensure that such transactions will not be overlooked in the future.

“Rep. Scanlon does not trade individual stocks and is a proud original cosponsor of the Ban Conflicted Trading Act to ban congressional stock trading and ensure accountability,” Figliuzzi said.

“Leaders should walk the walk,” responded David Galluch, Scanlon’s Republican challenger. “When it comes to representing working families, Mary Gay Scanlon has opted for the other route — talking the talk. The biggest challenge facing most families right now — and the one they’re most concerned about — is financial survival.

“Congresswoman Scanlon just voted for the Inflation Reduction Act, which the non-partisan CBO concluded will have no effect on inflation. She just voted to raise taxes and costs on working families. She just voted to hire 87,000 new IRS agents.

“As working families are experiencing economic hardship like never before and facing the specter of greater financial scrutiny from the government, we find out that Congresswoman Scanlon and her husband traded up to $110,000 in stocks—one and a half times more than the average family in PA-05 makes annually—that went unreported for over a year, violating the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act of 2012.”

Trust in institutions like Congress has plunged over the past two decades, and the result has been a rise in populist politics from both the Left (Sen. Bernie Sanders, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman) and Right (Former President Donald Trump.) According to the latest Gallup poll, the percentage of Americans who say they have little or no confidence in Congress has soared from 17 percent in 2002 to 57 percent today.

“I have talked to tens of thousands of people and most say the same thing: ‘I feel like there are two sets of rules — one for those in power and another for the rest of us.’ Unfortunately, this lends credence to their claim — rules for thee but not for Mary G,” Galluch said.

How members of Congress and their families handle investments has gained new attention in the wake of reports House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) husband has made millions on well-timed trades of stock impacted by upcoming legislative action.

“The Pelosi family’s pattern of appearing to use her speakership for their own personal financial benefit continues to raise red flags,” Caitlin Sutherland, executive director of Americans for Public Trust, told FOX Business.

Pennsylvania Republican Reps. Dan Meuser (Dallas, Pa.) and Mike Kelly (Erie), have run afoul of the conflict of interest stock reporting law as well. And Philadelphia Democrat Rep. Dwight Evans was also among scores of congressional members snagged for failing to disclose a stock sale.

After public outcry, a push to strengthen the largely impotent STOCK Act it has gone nowhere.

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