Watchdog FACT Calls for the OCE to Investigate Congresswoman Lori Trahan
Updated: Aug 15, 2019
FACT says Massachusetts Rep. Failed to Report Over $100,000 in Assets During her Congressional Race in a Timely Manner
(Washington, D.C.) –April 24, 2019 - The non-partisan ethics watchdog group, the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), filed a complaint today with the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) against Representative Lori Trahan (D-MA). The complaint maintains that Congresswoman Trahan failed, on multiple occasions, to file “true, complete and correct” financial disclosure statements during her campaign for Congress, raising troubling questions about the unknown origins of a late but substantial infusion of cash that gave her a clear advertising advantage during her tight primary race last year.
According to FACT’s complaint and published news reports, during Representative Trahan’s run for Congress (2017-2018), she “failed to disclose three asset accounts” in her 2018 financial disclosure report filed on May 21, 2018. This included a bank account valued at $50,000 and her sole ownership of a consulting business called Concire Leadership Institute that had an estimated value of $15,001 to $50,000. She also had a $15,000 asset in a software company called Stella Connect. While these assets were finally included in later reports, Congresswoman Trahan only did so after the media started asking questions during her candidacy.
In fact, two of those reports did not come until after the general election was over. Additionally, her report filed February 19th of this year showed that total assets held solely by Representative Trahan or jointly with her husband had doubled from $115,000 to $230,000 in just 9 months.
The complaint maintains Trahan’s financial omissions were in direct violation of 5 U.S.C. App. 4 § 101(b), which says “the Ethics in Government Act of 1978 requires candidates to file a personal financial disclosure report. Each report is required to provide a ‘full and complete statement’ with respect to income as well as interest derived from income exceeding $200. It is a violation of the law for any person to knowingly and willfully fail to file or report any information required under § 102, with civil penalties assessed by the Attorney General in a civil action.”
“Representative Trahan’s repeated failure to properly disclose her assets was at best grossly negligent, and at worst a willful and deceitful effort to conceal those assets and campaign funding in direct violation of federal law,” said Kendra Arnold, Executive Director, Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT).
Equally troubling was the fact that two weeks prior to the September 4, 2018 Democratic Primary in Massachusetts, when she was trailing in a ten-person candidate field, a $331,000 payment was made by her campaign for “TV Advertising.” And, by Primary Day, Trahan supposedly made 4 personal loans totaling $371,000 to her campaign. These very significant funds far exceeded the assets listed in both her 2017 and 2018 financial disclosure reports, which also raises questions about whether Trahan and her campaign violated campaign contribution limits.
On this point, the complaint notes that while candidates can make unlimited contributions or loans to their own campaign, individual contributions from other individuals are limited to $2,700 per election. “If Representative Trahan’s joint and separate accounts did not reflect the necessary funds to loan herself the $371,000, then any contribution from her husband’s separate holdings and accounts or any other potential source would be limited to the $2,700 contribution limit for that specific election, an amount which was significantly below the $371,000 her campaign received from March31 to September 4, 2018,” the complaint noted.
“The financial disclosure requirements are imperative—it is the only avenue for the public to scrutinize conflicts of interest or other issues with personal campaign funding. The math in this case indicates the public was denied information to vet candidate Trahan,” added Ms. Arnold. “The OCE needs to investigate this matter immediately because in addition to the apparent failure to disclose during the campaign, this information is necessary to assess Congresswoman Trahan’s current conflicts when conducting House business.”
A copy of FACT’s full OCE complaint can be read here.
FACT is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting accountability, ethics, and transparency in government and civic arenas. For more on FACT, visit www.factdc.org.