Watchdog group files ethics complaint against Rep. Shalala

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A conservative watchdog group has filed a complaint to the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) calling for an investigation into Rep. Donna Shalala after the Florida Democrat acknowledged that she violated federal law by failing to disclose stock sales while serving in Congress.

The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT) claims that Shalala’s actions were deliberate, after the Miami-area lawmaker said she knew of the law requiring her to report any stock trades within 45 days of making them but missed the deadlines for filing the reports. 

“This is not a missed deadline, it is a failure to file — it indicates a deliberate attempt to evade the legal reporting requirements,” the FACT complaint reads.

“Should the OCE conclude that Rep. Shalala violated these legal requirements, it must impose appropriate fines and penalties,” the complaint adds. 

A spokesperson for Shalala pointed to the congresswoman’s remarks this week saying that she knew of the deadlines but missed filing the necessary reports and is willing to comply with whatever action the House Ethics Committee deems necessary. 

The Democratic lawmaker was appointed to the oversight panel for the corporate bailout portion of the $2.2 trillion stimulus bill signed into law last month. The Miami Herald reported that several of the companies she once held stock in could be eligible for bailouts. 

Shalala, who has served in Congress since 2019, described her actions as “the opposite of insider trading” in an interview with CBS Miami on Wednesday.

“Look, I knew what the law was,” she said. “I missed the deadlines. And I have to take responsibility, personal responsibility for doing that. No one else is responsible except for me.”

Shalala has said she notified the House Ethics Committee and will comply with “whatever they think is appropriate.”

Shalala insists her stock trading would not conflict with her duties on the oversight panel.

Neither the OCE nor the House Ethics Committee has announced whether Shalala will face a formal penalty.

On Wednesday, the Demand Progress Education Fund called on Democratic Party leaders to encourage Shalala to step down from the panel overseeing the corporate bailout funds.

FACT did not specifically call for Shalala to recuse herself from the panel. 

“Recent news reports concerning Rep. Shalala’s potential conflicts of interest and possibly illegal or unethical activities raise significant concerns about her ability to discharge her duties, her judgment, and her ability to be viewed as conducting her oversight duties impartially and without distraction,” the Demand Progress Education Fund wrote.

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