Dreier Fixes Disclosure Forms

Posted March 14, 2008 at 6:24pm

Rep. David Dreier (Calif.), a member of the House Republican leadership, failed to disclose tens of thousands of dollars in profits he made on stock sales on his annual financial disclosure forms for the past several years.

After Roll Call inquired about the missing information last week, Dreier on Thursday filed with the Clerk of the House a detailed amendment of his 2004, 2005 and 2006 disclosure forms listing 86 separate stock sales for which his profits were not previously disclosed, totaling between $85,000 and $263,000 in income.

Dreier’s office says that the omissions were inadvertent, and the House ethics committee had approved his filings.

Dreier, the top Republican on the House Rules Committee since 1999, is not the only Member who failed to disclose income on financial disclosure forms. A Roll Call review of hundreds of 2006 disclosure forms turned up more than a dozen examples of Members who have reported sizable stock sales without reporting any income for those sales.

Members of Congress report their earnings in ranges, not in specific amounts; a Dreier spokeswoman said his actual total profit is closer to the low end of the range reported in his amendment.

About 35 of the transactions earned Dreier less than $200, and therefore he was not required to report them.

Since 2003, Dreier’s disclosure forms have reported his stock transactions, including the total value of each sale, but have not indicated how much profit he earned from those sales. For example, Dreier reported in 2005 that he sold Motorola stock with a total value of between $15,001 and $50,000. But his list of income sources for that year reported only $1-$200 worth of “dividends” from the Motorola stock, making no mention of the more than $5,000 in profits that Dreier netted from the sale.

Under House rules, each Member of Congress files a personal financial disclosure form every year listing income, assets, liabilities and transactions. The ethics committee provides instructions for filling out these forms that stipulate that capital gains from stock sales must be listed as income in “Schedule III” — the income table — of the form. A stock that is sold in its entirety is to be listed as having no value at the end of the year (because the Member no longer owns it), but any dividends earned prior to the sale and any income from the sale are to be listed in the various ranges provided on the form — $1-$200; $201-$1,000; $1,001-$2,500, etc.

The same sales must also be recorded in “Schedule IV” — the transaction section — indicating the date of the sale and the total value of the transaction, in broader ranges of $1,001-$15,000; $15,001-$50,000, etc.

In an example provided to Members by the ethics committee, a Member of Congress who sold stock in Texaco would report the transaction as being between $15,001-$50,000, and would report the income as both capital gains and dividends totaling in the range of $1,001-$2,500.

Dreier spokeswoman Jo Maney said in an e-mail to Roll Call, “All of Mr. Dreier’s financial disclosure forms were approved by the Ethics Committee at the time of their submission and no requests for amendments were made. While all transactions were disclosed on the forms, the inadvertent omissions were the result of the belief that capital gains generated by actual transactions belonged on Schedule IV of the form, and capital gains generated by other means belonged on Schedule III. An amendment to the forms has been filed.”

The ethics committee will not comment on any guidance provided to a Member of Congress and will neither confirm nor deny that Dreier’s forms were approved.

Dreier reported his profits properly prior to 2004, and Maney said the change in reporting was the result of a change in staff handling the forms in Dreier’s office.

Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.), who followed Dreier as chairwoman of the Rules Committee, also failed to report thousands of dollars in profits from stock sales in a disclosure form filed on June 8, 2007, but then filed a corrected form that disclosed the income on June 20. A spokesman for Slaughter said the Congresswoman filed the revised form after the ethics committee alerted her that her disclosure was amiss.

Several other Members, including Reps. John Olver (D-Mass.) and Tim Murphy (R-Pa.), reported stock sales in 2006 without indicating that they netted gains from the sales, though these appear to be relatively small transactions. For instance, none of Murphy’s reported sales in 2006 had a total value of more than $15,000. If there were no profits from these stock sales, the disclosure forms would be accurate. At press time, their offices had not responded to requests for clarification.

Rep. David Price (D-N.C.) failed to report income from two stock sales in 2006 “because we didn’t realize you had to also report them on Schedule III,” in addition to listing the transaction on Schedule IV, said spokesman Paul Cox. Price will file an amendment shortly to reflect the income, Cox said.

Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) reported capital gains for many entries on his disclosure form for 2006, but also reported several sizable transactions that had no information about profits. Dingell spokesman Adam Benson said in an e-mail, “The congressman appreciates Roll Call bringing this to his attention. His financial disclosure forms are reviewed by an attorney before filing and after filing, and he will again consult with his attorney for another review.”