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FACT Calls for Investigation into Rep. David Trone for Failing to Disclose Financial Information

Updated: Jul 2

Rep. Trone, co-owner of a multi-billion dollar liquor retail chain, appears to have significantly underreported his assets in financial disclosures

 

Washington, D.C. --- June 27, 2023 --- Today, the non-partisan ethics watchdog the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), filed a complaint requesting the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) investigate Congressman David Trone of Maryland to determine whether he violated federal law and House ethics rules by failing to disclose financial information about his owerniship in "Total Wine." The company is one of the largest liquor retail chains in the U.S., with a reported $5.5 billion in revenue in 2022.

 

Federal law and House ethics rules require House candidates and Members to publicly disclose their financial information to the public. The disclosure requirements are an integral part of an ethical and transparent government and accurate and timely filing is the only method for citizens to determine whether Members have conflicts of interest or are wrongfully profiting from their position. Under the public disclosure requirements, a Member must file an annual financial disclosure report that provides a “full and complete” statement of their assets, debts, and income.

 

Despite these rules, Congressman Trone’s financial disclosure filings appear to show substantial underreporting of assets by failing to disclose his interest in numerous Total Wine franchises. Congressman Trone, who first began filing financial disclosures during his House campaign in 2016 and has continued to do so, did not disclose his ownership interest in at least eight 8 "Total Wine" franchises. Contrary to this, Congressman Trone pledged several of these franchises as collateral to receive a $1 million to $5 million revolving line of credit, indicating they do have value and should have been reported.

 

For example, Congressman Trone first reported ownership in a Total Wine California franchise in 2020 and that he received over $5 million in income from it, though he failed to disclose it in 2016, 2018, and 2019. It is highly unlikely that the franchise would have no value one year and the very next year produce over $5 million in income. Additionally, he used this franchise as collateral for a loan before, which indicates it did have value.

 

“This is a case where known facts appear to contradict with what Congressman Trone put forth on his own financial disclosures. If these franchises have a value of more than $1,000, which they likely would based upon his use of them as loan collateral, he would be legally required to disclose them. One issue the House Ethics Manual clearly acknowledges is the stringent enforcement of the financial disclosure law because it is the only method to determine whether candidates or Members have conflicts of interest. Errors or not reporting assets is simply not allowed. Moreover, the failure of Members to follow the most basic ethics rules leads to public distrust in our elected officials and is unacceptable,” said Kendra Arnold, Executive Director of FACT. 

 

A full copy of FACT’s complaint can be found HERE

 

FACT is a nonprofit organization promoting accountability, ethics, and transparency in government and civic arenas. For more on FACT, visit: http://www.factdc.org

 

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