Rep. Donna Shalala was an active stock market trader well into her first year in Congress, purchasing individual securities as late as June 2019 and reporting more than 500 transactions in her tardy periodic transaction report.
Last week, the Florida Democrat’s spokesman, Carlos Condarco, said she failed to report “roughly a half-dozen transactions.” When asked about Shalala’s 556 unreported transactions, Condarco said he was not clear when he first spoke to Roll Call.
“The congresswoman failed to file half a dozen transaction reports,” Condarco clarified.
Shalala, who was appointed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi to oversee hundreds of billions in coronavirus relief funds, came under scrutiny when the Miami Herald reported she violated federal law by not disclosing her 2019 stock trades, a requirement under the STOCK Act for all members of Congress.
“From the moment she got elected to Congress, she decided to put her money into a blind trust,” Condarco said.
Shalala’s lawyer, who was initially preparing the blind trust, made a mistake, Condarco said.
“The attorney that was originally preparing the congresswoman’s blind trust did so using the Senate guidelines, which are different from the House guidelines,” he said.
A qualified blind trust is a device used by federal officials to hold, administer and manage their private financial assets and investments by an independent third party to avoid conflicts of interest.
Shalala then instructed her broker to sell her assets, Condarco said. He did not provide the exact date of when Shalala directed this action or the names of her lawyer and broker.
As late as June 19, 2019, Shalala bought stock worth between $1,000 and $15,000 in Exact Sciences Corporation, a company that screens for colon cancer, and between $1,000 and $15,000 in NovoCure Limited, a cancer treatment enterprise. That same date she also bought between $1,000 and $15,000 in Plurasight Inc. stock. Plurasight is a cloud-based training company.
Shalala serves on the House Education and Labor Committee, whose oversight includes education and health. A former Health and Human Services secretary in the Clinton administration, she also bought stock worth between $1,000 and $15,000 in Global Blood Therapeutics, Inc., a pharmaceutical company, on June 4.
In response to the stock scrutiny, Shalala’s congressional website, as of today, features a financial disclosure section.
“We want to be a model for transparency going forward,” Condarco said.
She will likely face a $200 late filing fee. For the first late periodic transaction report filed, the fee is $200 “regardless of the number of missed reports,” according to the House Ethics Committee’s PTR late fee waiver form. Shalala has already sent the Ethics panel a $1,200 payment.
“Since December, the congresswoman has been working with the Ethics Committee on resolving the fact that she missed these deadlines,” Condarco said.
The House Ethics Committee declined comment.