House Republican accused of violating conflict-of-interest law for $500K 'unique financial occurrence'
A freshman Republican lawmaker in Florida is at the center of controversy amid speculation that she possibly violated a federal conflict-of-interest law "by improperly disclosing a 6-figure stock trade," according to a review of her Congressional financial records.
According to Business Insider, Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar (R-Fla.) revealed that she'd received a sum of approximately $500,000 in stock from the publicly traded company Cano Health Inc. back in February. The problem stems from Salazar's failure to disclose the stock gains in a timely manner. Per the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act, all Congressional members are required to disclose their earnings within 45 days. However, it reportedly took Salazar more than two months to do so.
Per the news outlet, Salazar claims she "obtained her Cano Health shares following a special purpose acquisition company ( SPAC) transaction that resulted in her non-publicly traded shared in Cano Health's holding company being exchanged for publicly traded shares in Cano Health."
In wake of the latest reports, Salazar's spokesperson released a statement to address the situation. In an email to Insider, Shawn Balcomb described Salazar's situation as a "unique financial occurrence."
"Ms. Salazar had a unique financial occurrence involving options and a SPAC," Balcomb said in the email. "Ms. Salazar's team worked closely with Ethics Committee staff to address this."
Balcomb also argued that "'there was no guidance' in House Committee on Ethics instructions regarding Salazar's specific kind of financial transaction. Salazar has requested that the House Committee on Ethics waive any fine — the standard penalty is $200 — associated with her late disclosure but has yet to hear back."
The latest incident involving Salazar has reignited the debates about banning Congressional members from having individual stock holdings. Norman Ornstein, an advocate who has pushed for a ban on Congressional stock trading, believes these restrictions are long overdue.
"It's long past the time to do away with individual stock holdings for members of Congress," said Ornstein. "But there are plenty of members of Congress who'd like to see this stock-ban effort die. I'm not 100% confident that we can get this done, in part because it's already June."
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