Dems demand ethics investigation of health nominee

Dems demand ethics investigation of health nominee
© Greg Nash

Senate Democrats on Thursday called for an ethics investigation of Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) before his nomination for Health and Human Services secretary goes forward.

The Democrats are calling for an Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) investigation of Price's trading of medical stocks while in Congress.

The Wall Street Journal reported last month that Price traded more than $300,000 in health stocks while also sponsoring healthcare legislation.

Democrats are using the revelation to take aim at Price's nomination, one of their top targets among President-elect Trump's Cabinet picks.

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The Democrats' latest move comes one day after a war of words over ObamaCare consumed Capitol Hill amid competing visits from Vice President-elect Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceTrump health chief backs needle exchanges in anti-HIV strategy Pence travels to Nebraska to survey flood damage Pence traveling to SC for Graham reelection launch MORE and President Obama.

"If there would ever be an example of the swamp that President-elect Trump promised to clear out, it would be congressmen, senators using the inside information they had to benefit themselves personally," Sen. Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerGOP senator: Trump's criticism of McCain 'deplorable' Schumer to introduce bill naming Senate office building after McCain amid Trump uproar Why we need to build gateway now MORE (D-N.Y.) told reporters on Thursday.

The Democrats said they did not know whether Price has broken any laws, but that they need an ethics investigation to find out.

"Every American should be shocked by this," Schumer said.

Democrats have also targeted Price over his stance on Medicare, calling for a set amount of government assistance to be given to seniors rather than the current more open-ended guarantee from the program.

Democrats sense that defending Medicare is a political winner.

Democrats also tried to tie the ethics investigation of Price to House Republicans' effort this week to try to weaken the ethics office, saying an investigation would have been stymied if Republicans had gotten their way.

Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayWhite House proposes limits on student loan borrowing as part of higher education reforms Jury orders Johnson & Johnson to pay M to woman who claimed baby powder gave her cancer Overnight Health Care - Presented by Kidney Care Partners - FDA chief Scott Gottlieb resigns | House Dems to take up drug pricing bills next week | Planned Parenthood, doctors group sue over Trump abortion rule MORE (D-Wash.), the top Democrat on the Senate health committee, said Thursday that Democrats are looking for answers for questions like whether Price had nonpublic information when he made the stock trades, and how much profit he made.

"You are there to serve the people, not yourself," Murray said.

"The reality is that Dr. Price’s 20-year career as an orthopedic surgeon and a fiscal conservative make him uniquely qualified to lead HHS," said Phil Blando, a Trump transition spokesman. "Today’s stunt is simply an effort to deflect attention away from ObamaCare’s dismal record, including reduced choices and $700 billion in Medicare cuts.”

--This report was updated at 12:25 p.m.