'That’s a conflict': Abortion pill banning judge redacted details about millions in his stock portfolio

'That’s a conflict': Abortion pill banning judge redacted details about millions in his stock portfolio
Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, Image via MSNBC/Screengrab
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U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk redacted critical information in his financial disclosure forms related to a single stock that is worth millions of dollars, making it the largest portion of his personal wealth. That redaction was made across several years of disclosure forms, making it difficult to determine if he has or has had any conflicts of interest.

Kacsmaryk, a Christian nationalist who ruled that the FDA must withdraw its 23-year old approval of Mifepristone, a widely-used abortion pill that is “safer than Tylenol,” is already facing allegations of not disclosing far-right radio interviews during which he discussed civil rights issues including same-sex marriage and contraception. Those interviews should have been part of his confirmation hearing disclosure.

“In his 2020 and 2021 annual disclosures, Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk wrote that he held between $5 million and $25 million in ‘common stock’ of a company – a significant majority of the judge’s personal wealth,” CNN reports. “The name of the company he held stock in is redacted, despite the fact that federal law only allows redactions of information that could ‘endanger’ a judge or their family member.”

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In a 2017 unreacted form CNN obtained, “Kacsmaryk reported owning about $2.9 million in stock in the Florida-based supermarket company Publix. It’s not clear whether that’s the same holding as the redacted stock, although Publix’s share price had significantly increased by 2020 and 2021 and the company is no longer listed on his more recent disclosures.”

“Redactions are approved by a judicial committee. The redacted holding accounted for at least 85% of Kacsmaryk’s total reported wealth in 2021, and potentially more.”

In a statement Kacsmaryk told CNN the “Administrative Office of the United States Courts approved the redaction after reviewing the relevant rules and applicable threats.”

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It is unknown what applicable threat might come from Kacsmaryk owning stock in a supermarket chain.

Publix, founded nearly a century ago, has over 1300 stores. It is owned by past and present employees and their family members, and members of the Jenkins family, which founded it in 1930.

“The whole point of a disclosure is to explain where you have conflicts,” Michael Lissner told CNN. Lissner is executive director of the Free Law Project, “a nonprofit that has published judicial disclosures.”

“If you have stock and you’re not saying what it’s in and it’s this much of your personal wealth, that’s a conflict you have,” Lissner says. “The public deserves to know.”

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