FACT Releases Top Ethics Violators of 2021, Congressman Tom Malinowski (D-NJ) Tops the List
Ethics Watchdog Says Congressman Malinowski’s repeated violations set him apart
The non-partisan ethics watchdog group, the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), today released its annual “Top Ethics Violators of 2021”. This year’s list includes violations of personal financial disclosure rules, Hatch Act violations, misuse of state resources for federal campaign purposes and blatantly using taxpayer-funded resources for political purposes. The top violator, however, is two-term New Jersey Congressman Tom Malinowski.
Twice in the past year Malinowski has been the subject of FACT complaints filed with the Office of Congressional Ethics. As FACT outlined in its first March 2021 complaint, Malinowski failed to disclose up to 90 stock trades valued between $671,000 and $2.76 million in 2020. Even more egregious, Malinowski continued to buy and sell stocks without disclosing the transactions even after it was made public that he had failed to comply with the law, which FACT outlined in its second July 2021 complaint.
The Office of Congressional Ethics investigated, and found that despite having monthly statements containing the information needed to file his disclosure report and reminders from his staff, Malinowski failed to report transactions made between January 2019 and January 2021. Then after these failures became public and the OCE began its investigation, Malinowski again filed late reports. Moreover, even in the corrective filings Malinowski made and his 2019 financial disclosure report, the OCE found other additional “errors and omissions.” The OCE concluded:
Malinowski knowingly failed to enter reportable PTR transactions into the online reporting system in accordance with STOCK Act deadlines, intentionally conflated PTR transactions he did report, did not disclose short sales in a consistent manner (or according to his stated intent), and failed to properly disclose assets and transactions on his 2019 annual financial disclosure statement. After acknowledging these failures, he knowingly filed additional PTRs with late reportable transactions.
The OCE referred Malinowski’s case to the Office of Congressional Ethics, which is currently investigating.
“The disclosure laws are put in place for a reason, and they are essential for a government to operate in an ethical and transparent manner. Timely and accurate filings are the only way for citizens to determine whether the Member they elected is engaging in self-enrichment. Rightfully, the Office of Congressional Ethics and House Ethics Committee are investigating Representative Malinowski and it is my hope that they impose the proper sanctions for every violation,” said Kendra Arnold, Executive Director of FACT.
FACT’S Other Top Ethics Violators of 2021 Include:
U.S. Congresswoman Marie Newman (D-IL): Ethics Watchdog Calls for Investigation into U.S. Congresswoman Marie Newman
In May 2021, FACT filed a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate Congresswoman Marie Newman regarding her promising federal employment for procuring political support— which is in violation of federal law and House Ethics rules. According to court records, both Newman and Iyman Chehade were intending to run for congress in 2020 to represent Illinois’ Third District. In a planned effort to prevent Chehade from running against her in the primary, Newman promised Chehade government employment should she win the election. Furthermore, in December 2018 Newman and Chehade entered a written contract to memorialize Newman’s offer of federal government employment.
The December 2018 contract promised Chehade as Newman’s “Chief Foreign Policy Advisor” and a “District Director OR Legislative Director” with an annual salary ranging from $135,000 to $140,000. The written contract also promised Chehade a private office space, vacation time, and employee benefits. Despite Newman winning the 2020 general election, she did not hire Chehade and Chehade filed a lawsuit for breach of contract. This agreement is in clear violation of federal law that prohibits House candidates from directly or indirectly promising the appointment of any individual to any public or private position for the purpose of procuring support for his or her candidacy.
After FACT’s complaint was filed Chehade and Newman settled the pending federal case, and two days later Newman’s campaign began making “very large salary payments” to Chehade.
FACT’s complaint also led to an investigation by the Office of Congressional Ethics, which referred the case to the House Ethic’s Committee for further action and that investigation is currently ongoing.
Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm: Ethics Watchdog Files Hatch Act Complaint Against Secretary Granholm
In 2021, FACT twice requested the Office of Special Counsel investigate Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm for committing multiple Hatch Act violations. In an October 2021 interview, Secretary Granholm emphasized the importance of electing progressive Democrats to help pass President Biden’s spending plan. FACT’s Executive Director, Kendra Arnold, noted that Secretary Granholm was speaking in her official capacity and had the Department of Energy’s insignia displayed directly behind her as she encouraged electing progressives.
Additionally, FACT filed a second complaint against Secretary Granholm a few weeks later for violating the Hatch Act for a second time. This occurrence revolved around Secretary Granholm tweeting from her Department of Energy twitter account urging Maine residents to vote a certain way on a ballot question.
U.S. Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY): Ethics Watchdog Calls for Probe into Rep. Maloney for Financial Reporting Violations
In April, FACT filed a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney regarding his failure to disclose financial transactions well after the 45 day window. It was reported that Maloney failed to disclose eight stock transactions valued at $11,051 in June 2020. Maloney did not report these transactions until April 2021.
Moreover, in October, FACT filed a second complaint against Maloney calling on the FEC (Federal Elections Commission) to investigate the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and Congressman Maloney, who is the Chairman of the DCCC, for suspect spending. The DCCC reportedly purchased an Air France ticket on June 21, 2021, for $813, a few weeks before Congressman Maloney embarked on a luxurious vacation to France and Italy. The DCCC claimed the ticket was purchased “to conduct DCCC business with Americans living overseas.” However, Congressman Maloney posted photos from the trip between August 8- August 13, including him attending a wedding in France. Federal law states DCCC funds may not be spent for personal use, which includes ‘vacations’ and sometimes travel expenses.
U.S. Congresswoman Katherine Clark (D-MA): Ethics Watchdog Calls for Investigation into Rep. Katherine Clark
In September 2021, FACT filed a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate Assistant Speaker of the House and Rep. Katherine Clark for failing to disclose 19 personal stock transactions by her husband within the 45 day time-frame. Her husband’s stocks consisted of Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc., Best Buy, First Solar Inc., investment management firm BlackRock Inc., pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline, data and records management company Iron Mountain Inc., and water technology company Xylem Inc.
Congresswoman Clark’s husband’s stocks transactions were valued between $19,019 and $285,000 and were made on June 4, 2021. However, Congresswoman Clark did not disclose these transactions for over two months, finally doing so on August 15, 2021. This was the second time in 2021 that Congresswoman Clark had apparently broken the federal financial disclosure rules.