Senate Dem asks for SEC investigation of Trump HHS pick

Senate Dem asks for SEC investigation of Trump HHS pick
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A Senate Democrat is calling for the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to investigate stock purchases made by President-elect Donald TrumpDonald TrumpSeven key players for Trump on immigration Spicer: Media coverage of Trump has not been fair Kasich finds it hard to rule out 2020 MORE's pick to lead the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).  

Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) must “play by the same rules as everyone else,” Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandSenate votes to confirm Rosenstein as deputy attorney general Senate approves Trump's Agriculture chief Dems urge Trump to include Northeast Corridor tunnel project in infrastructure bill MORE (D-N.Y.) wrote in a letter to SEC Chairwoman Mary Jo White.

“I write to ask that your office immediately investigate whether Tom Price … violated the STOCK Act and other federal laws in the purchase and sale of shares of a medical device manufacturer,” Gillibrand wrote.

The Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act, which Gillibrand championed, prohibits members of Congress from profiting off of nonpublic information.

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Democrats are questioning whether Price may have violated the STOCK Act following a CNN report that he purchased up to $15,000 worth of stock in medical device manufacturer Zimmer Biomet last March, then introduced a bill a few days later that would have benefited the company. 

The Trump team dismissed the CNN report as "junk," adding that the investment was made by a broker and that Price was not aware of it until after he had introduced the legislation.

“Any effort to connect the introduction of bipartisan legislation by Dr. Price to any campaign contribution is demonstrably false,” said transition spokesman Phil Blando in a statement. “The only pattern we see emerging is that Senate Democrats and their liberal media allies cannot abide the notion that Dr. Tom Price is uniquely qualified to lead HHS and will stop at nothing to smear his reputation.”

Separately, Time reported on Tuesday that Price invested in six pharmaceutical companies before supporting legislation that would benefit them. 

Gillibrand noted that Price's position in Congress gives him “special access to non-public information regarding legislative and regulatory action affecting wide swaths of the healthcare industry, including medical device manufacturers like Zimmer Biomet.”

“The STOCK Act makes clear that Members of Congress and high-level Administration officials cannot profit from nonpublic information,” she wrote. “The American people need to know that their elected leaders and high-level Administration appointees play by the same rules as everyone else.”

With Price’s Senate confirmation looming, Gillibrand called for the SEC to make an “expedited determination” on whether he violated the STOCK Act.

Price's Senate confirmation hearing is Wednesday. Democrats are gearing up for a fight but could face an uphill battle in preventing him from being confirmed, with Republicans holding a 52-48 majority.

Cabinet picks only require a majority for confirmation. 

— Jordain Carney and Peter Sullivan contributed.