Pence chief of staff owns stock affected by boss’s coronavirus work: report

Greg Nash

Vice President Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, owns between $506,043 and $1.6 million worth of stocks in companies involved in the Trump administration’s coronavirus response, NPR reported Thursday.

The stocks range from medical and manufacturing companies such as Abbott Laboratories, Gilead Sciences and Bristol Myers Squibb, which are directly involved in or connected with the work done by the task force Pence chairs, to others such as Walmart, Roche and CVS, which the White House has highlighted for their collaboration with the federal government.

Short identified more than 100 listings of individual stocks as possible conflicts of interest after taking the job with Pence’s office last year, according to NPR, but did not divest from them after he was denied a tax break that is frequently granted to government officials who sell potentially ethically problematic stocks.

“Marc Short has followed all applicable ethics laws, and even sought to divest from potential financial conflicts,” Pence spokesman Devin O’Malley told NPR. “Additionally, on several occasions, including since the formation of the coronavirus task force, Mr. Short has worked with legal counsel to implement appropriate recusals.”

Employees of the executive branch are required by law to resolve any conflicts of interest before participating in policy decisions or deliberations that could affect companies or industries in which they have a financial stake. It remains unclear whether Short has been involved in any such deliberations, but in March, he specifically touted Honeywell’s respirator mask production. Short holds between $50,001 and $100,000 worth of Honeywell stock.

Former Office of Government Ethics chief Walter Shaub, a frequent critic of the Trump administration, called the records a “red alarm,” telling NPR “we have enough information to know that there is a serious possibility of a conflict of interest and a very realistic chance that he may have participated in matters affecting his financial interests.”

The Hill has reached out to Pence’s office for comment.

Tags Abbott Laboratories Bristol Myers Squibb Conflict of interest conflicts of interest Coronavirus CVS Gilead Sciences Honeywell Marc Short Mike Pence NPR Roche Walmart Walter Shaub

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