Mark Alesia

Stewart Rhodes’ son fears Trump or DeSantis will pardon his father

Dakota Adams, eldest son of Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes, was somewhat disappointed with the 18-year prison sentence a federal judge imposed Thursday on his convicted seditionist father.

Adams considers it too short.

“I was hoping for better than 20 (years), but it still means he's going to die in prison unless he's pardoned, and that's good enough for me," Adams said in an exclusive interview with Raw Story.

Therein lies the rub: unless he’s pardoned.

That’s part of why Adams, 26, said the sentence, for seditious conspiracy at the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, did not represent "closure" for him. Prosecutors asked for 25 years.

“I'm no longer in an emotional landscape where I'm thinking about having a relationship with Stewart, where terms like 'closure' would apply,” he said. “Basically, it's just the threat that Stewart presents has been decreased where the only hurdle remaining is if someone insane wins the presidential election and pardons him for political points."

At a CNN town hall earlier this month, former President Donald Trump, who is running for re-election in 2024 amid his numerous legal troubles, mused about pardoning perpetrators of the January 6 attack on the Capitol.

“I am inclined to pardon many of them,” Trump said, adding that he would take up the issue early in another potential presidency. “I can’t say for every single one, because a couple of them, probably they got out of control.”

Newly minted Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis — one of several Republicans now vying to run against presumptive 2024 Democratic nominee President Joe Biden in next year's general election — also weighed in on pardoning people convicted of crimes connected to the January 6 attack.

“On day one, I will have folks that will get together and look at all these cases, people who are victims of weaponization or political targeting, and we will be aggressive in issuing pardons,” DeSantis said Thursday on a podcast.

Speaking to the court before U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta announced the sentence, Rhodes said he was a “political prisoner.” The judge retorted, “You’re not a political prisoner, Mr. Rhodes. You’re here because of your actions.”

Adams, who wrote in Raw Story about the process of extracting himself from Rhodes’ far-right paranoia, said he’s concerned about DeSantis who, at age 44, is more than three decades younger than Trump.

"DeSantis has been exhibiting all the characteristics of a wanna-be strongman dictator, in his actions as governor of Florida,” Adams said. “And I see inside the mainstream GOP a slow-moving effort to rig the presidential election permanently."

By that, he said he meant gerrymandering and voter suppression, abetted by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Speaking to the court Thursday, Rhodes compared himself to Soviet dissident Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.

"Stewart is completely obsessed with 'The Gulag Archipelago,'” Adams said of Solzhenitsyn’s book, which described forced labor and show trials in the Soviet Union under Lenin and Stalin. “He quoted Solzhenitsyn all the time. It was one of his favorite people to pull quotes from. I'm not convinced he actually read 'The Gulag Archipelago,' cover to cover, instead of the cursory reading you do to kind of 'front,' like you've really absorbed the work."

Rhodes also told the court Thursday that he felt like the protagonist in Franz Kafka’s 'The Trial,' an early 20th-century work that depicted a character who was arrested without knowing the charge.

"That's a really funny comparison because Stewart absolutely knows what he's on trial for,” Adams said. “It's never been unclear. He's certainly delusional enough to see himself as the accused in The Trial."

Earlier this week, Adams’ mother, Tasha, was officially divorced from Rhodes. Raw Story exclusively obtained her 2018 affidavit in which she alleged depraved and paranoid behavior by her then-husband, including beating his children and emotionally abusing them. The court this week unsealed the affidavit and other documents in the case.

Dakota Adams said that reading that Raw Story article brought back horrific memories.

"I've been in therapy for over a year now and I'm exorcizing a lot of ghosts by writing about my childhood,” Adams said. “It is nice that there are finally consequences (for Rhodes), but mostly it's the cold calculation that Stewart is no longer a potential short-term threat, roaming loose in the world and trying to rebuild his private army."

'Grabbed her by the throat': Unsealed court docs allege Stewart Rhodes created 'constant fear' at home

Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes — a key figure in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol — beat his kids, used the toilet in their presence, encouraged them to use drugs and harbored an “obsession with sex (that) led him to incredibly inappropriate behavior around the children,” newly released court filings obtained by Raw Story allege.

A 2018 affidavit, filed by Rhodes’ ex-wife, Tasha Adams, as part of her divorce proceedings, alleged that Rhodes’ emotional and physical abuse of their children included punching and choking them.

The affidavit — which Rhodes said in his own court filing “twisted over 23 years of facts” — also alleges that Rhodes’ abuse included the family’s pets.

“Stewart has also kicked, hit, and punched the dogs in front of the children so many times,” the affidavit said. “One time he racked his pistols and almost shot our puppy in front of all the children.”

The allegations against Rhodes included gross violations of his children’s privacy.

“When he still lived with us Stewart insisted on going into the bathroom and using the toilet while the girls were showering,” the document states. “(One of his daughters) noticed a direct correlation between his insistence on using the bathroom while the girls were showering and his mood.

“The angrier he was, the more likely he was to force the door open or to order them not to use the lock I had installed on the bathroom door,” the document continues. “Eventually, he broke the lock. He would tell them to just close the curtain while he sat down.”

The document also cited another allegation about Rhodes’ behavior involving one of his daughters.

“Stewart told her all about how he used to get paid (during our marriage) to have sex with other men's wives while they watched,” the affidavit states. “He described what they paid him to do, how he found partners using Craigslist, and that it was all basically a charitable act because some of these men were disabled.”

One alleged incident involved Rhodes watching pornography at the kitchen table with the volume turned up and his children present.

“The older children said they would turn up the TV to drown out the noise so the little ones couldn't hear,” the document says.

Rhodes answered the affidavit by accusing Adams of fomenting parental alienation.

“Tasha and her attorney twisted over 23 years of facts in an attempt to accomplish Tasha's true goal of keeping the children from me,” Rhodes’ court filing said. “There are simply no grounds to restrict my contact with the children other than Tasha apparently now wants to change a lifestyle and parenting methodology she actively participated in for over 20 years. That is neither the basis of an emergency nor grounds to withhold me from the children.”

‘Grabbed her by the throat’

Rhodes was convicted in November of seditious conspiracy against the United States and other offenses related to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Earlier this month, prosecutors asked for a 25-year prison sentence.

“Rhodes used his powers of persuasion and his platform as leader of the Oath Keepers to radicalize more than 20 other American citizens to oppose by force the authority of the government of the United States,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum. “Those who have studied Rhodes and who know him best suggest that such behavior is completely in character and unlikely to change.”

Rhodes’ defense team portrayed him as a loyal follower of former President Donald Trump who was ready to follow orders from the president to help overturn the results of the 2020 election.

Donald Trump, Stewart RhodesStewart Rhodes attempted to communicate with then-President Donald Trump ahead of the Jan.6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, although there's no evidence that the two men ever connected. (Rhodes picture by Nicholas Kamm for AFP, Trump by Chandan Khanna for AFP)

Rhodes also said that he would have killed then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, according to a recording presented at trial.

Raw Story obtained Adams’ affidavit and other divorce documents from a source, not from the Lincoln County (Montana) District Court, where the documents were filed.

A court clerk confirmed Tuesday that the documents were unsealed but could not immediately provide certified copies.

After a court session Monday afternoon, Adams and her oldest son Dakota recorded a video that was posted on Twitter.

“I’m divorced,” Adams said. “My case has been unsealed. … And we get to talk about things that happened in the divorce. … Stewart did not show up to this. There was an open Zoom. … My lawyer is an incredible badass and everything is wonderful.”

Adams’ allegations of physical abuse includes the description of an incident where Rhodes swung one of their daughters around by her hair because her room was messy.

Another allegation involved Rhodes’ daughter, then 14: “Stewart grabbed her by the throat and choked her. He pulled back his opposite fist to punch her in the face but my son yelled from across the yard and Stewart let go, so she ran into the house.”

The document alleges that the oldest child, son Dakota, endured much of the abuse.

“The worst time was probably when he was 13,” Stewart’s ex-wife said in the court document. “I had left the room and Stewart punched him in the head so hard that he was dizzy and sick afterwards, fell on his knees, and couldn't see in full color for two days. I walked in on the scene, saw Dakota falling to his knees.”

Rhodes, the document alleges, also referred to his children as a “f—--- lazy little bitch,” “retarded” and “stupid.”

The document said he routinely pitted the children against each other in “stick fighting,” leaving them bruised.

“Stewart’s world view is that we are always under attack and need to be prepared to defend ourselves,” the affidavit says. “He continually tells the children about rape and murder in detail far too graphic for their ages, telling them about the mechanics of rape and how little children are often kidnapped and tortured and chopped up. He keeps the children in constant fear of rape and murder as a control tactic.”

The document said Rhodes, a Yale Law School graduate, did “training scenarios” with the older daughters where he did a mock attack and they had to fight him off.

“When they got to the point where they couldn’t fight him anymore,’ the document alleges, “he would yell that they had just been raped and murdered.”

How Des Moines forced Donald Trump to pay his bills

Ahead of Donald Trump’s campaign visit to Iowa last week, the Des Moines Water Works Park Foundation made sure it was financially protected from the nation’s bill-skipper-in-chief.

According to documents obtained by Raw Story through an Iowa public records request, the public operator of Lauridsen Amphitheater in Des Moines, Iowa, compelled the Trump 2024 campaign committee to sign a six-page contract to use the facility for a May 13 rally that was ultimately canceled because of potential tornadoes in the area.

The Water Works Park Foundation charged the Trump campaign $12,900 for rent, not including fencing, parking personnel and portable toilets, according to the contract, which Trump campaign treasurer Bradley Crate signed.

“Base rent fee is due prior to event, any additional fees as ordered by DJTFP24 will be due within 30 days of event’s conclusion,” the contract said in bold type, referring to the Trump 2024 campaign.

Sam Carrell, executive director of the Des Moines Water Works Park Foundation, said Tuesday that the Trump campaign indeed paid ahead.

"While we don’t offer a refund, we do offer other open make up dates when weather forces a cancellation," Carrell told Raw Story.

The Des Moines Water Works Park Foundation is a nonprofit organization with a mission to "improve the quality of life for Central Iowan’s by the enhancement of Water Works Park in Des Moines, Iowa.

The Trump campaign also appears to at least be liable for more than $1,000 of damage to grass. As Axios reported, “Before leaving the park, a semi-truck went off a rock path and into soggy grass areas that were off limits to vehicles. Then, food truck drivers and other vendors drove on the same spots.”

Another part of the contract obtained by Raw Story said the Trump campaign “shall be responsible for, and pay for damages to the Water Works grounds and facilities, which are caused by the event.”

Trump, according to Axios, has reportedly agreed to pay, but the campaign did not respond to the story.

The contract states that the Trump campaign was required to have a “comprehensive general liability insurance policy, including public liability and property damage, covering its activities hereunder, in an amount not less than One Million Dollars ($1,000,000).”

The contract did not, however, require the Trump campaign to pay for associated local public safety costs — the kind that Trump officials have generally avoided in recent years. Trump has a long history of ignoring bills in business and politics. Numerous cities are still asking Trump to pay police- and public safety-related bills from his 2016 and 2020 presidential campaigns.

This year — eight days before Trump’s rally on March 25 in Waco, Texas — public officials there signed a detailed contract with the Trump campaign ahead of Trump’s event at the city-owned Waco Regional Airport.

Because the event was at a municipal facility, city officials had more legal leverage over the Trump campaign, and they used it — including forcing Trump to foot bills for “public safety, sanitation and transportation personnel and resources required to preserve public order and protect public health, safety and welfare”.

At the same time, officials in El Paso, Texas, were still waiting for Trump to pay up for public safety-related costs stemming from a February 2019 visit.

"The Trump campaign has not submitted any payments for their debt," El Paso city spokesperson Laura Cruz-Acosta told Raw Story, noting that Trump’s tab is $569,204.63, including a city-issued late fee of $98,787.58.

Rudy Giuliani is still an honored man at these five colleges despite a tsunami of legal scandals

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a central figure during Donald Trump’s presidency, stands accused of sexually assaulting an ex-employee.

He is also accused of offering to sell presidential pardons for $2 million each — he denies wrongdoing.

And that’s just last week.

Giuliani also repeatedly lied about President Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory, according to the House January 6 Committee.

He actively worked to overturn the 2020 presidential election’s results and is facing a civil defamation suit brought by Georgia election workers.

He rallied Trump supporters to stage a “trial by combat” just before they attacked the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, and has advocated bombing Mexico.

He violated professional legal standards, per a D.C. Bar disciplinary committee.

Worse yet for Giuliani, he’s endured the suspension of his law license in New York and Washington, D.C, with a New York court declaring Giuliani’s “conduct immediately threatens the public interest” while he “communicated demonstrably false and misleading statements to courts, lawmakers and the public at large in his capacity as lawyer for former President Donald J. Trump and the Trump campaign.”

Even Giuliani’s own lawyer is just about through with him.

But at Georgetown University, Syracuse University, St. John Fisher University, Loyola University Maryland and The Citadel, Giuliani remains an honored man.

At present, each school has allowed Giuliani to keep honorary degrees they bestowed on him before his MAGA-era troubles began — despite, in some cases, mounting outrage from students, faculty and alumni.

Any of them could take Giuliani’s degrees back.

“If at any time during the life of an awardee the University becomes aware of documented evidence of criminal, unethical or immoral behavior or activity, the University has the right to rescind the honorary degree,” Georgetown University’s honorary degree revocation policy states.

“In considering any revocation, Georgetown would follow this policy,” the university wrote in a statement to Raw Story in confirming the former mayor “received an honorary degree from Georgetown in 2002 at the Law Center Commencement.”

Georgetown University officials this week refused to say, however, whether the school’s board and administration are actively attempting to strip Giuliani of his degree, and if so, where the process — if there is one — stands.

That’s more than the other four schools were willing to say about Giuliani.

The Citadel spokesman Zachary Watson acknowledged — but did not answer — Raw Story’s questions about the status of the honorary degree Rudy Giuliani received from the South Carolina military school in 2007.

Then-Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani (center) receives an honorary degree of doctor of public administration from Citadel Associate Provost Isaac Metts (right) on May 5, 2007. Stephen Morton/Getty Images

Officials at Syracuse University and St. John Fisher University in New York, as well as Loyola University Maryland, did not respond to repeated phone and email messages.

Their silence stands in stark contrast to the messages three other schools — the University of Rhode Island, Drexel University in Pennsylvania and Middlebury College in Vermont — have sent Giuliani: they’ve already revoked honorary degrees they had awarded him.

“The totality of Mr. Giuliani’s recent actions, which have led to the suspension of his license to practice law, include repeated unfounded claims of widespread election fraud, have significantly contributed to undermining the public’s faith in our democratic institutions and in the integrity of our judicial system, and stand in clear opposition to Drexel’s values,” Drexel wrote in 2021 when it deep-sixed Giuliani’s 2009 honorary doctor of laws degree.

Last year, after the University of Rhode Island Board of Trustees unanimously revoked honorary degrees awarded to both Giuliani and former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, school President Marc Parlange said that the men “no longer represent the highest level of our values and standards that were evident when we first bestowed the degree.”

‘It’s just disappointing’

In a text message to Raw Story, Giuliani communications and political adviser Ted Goodman said, "Frankly, we weren't even aware of those decisions, and it's just disappointing, and it says more about the culture of these institutions than anything else."

At Georgetown University, institutional culture is exactly the reason why the school should terminate Giuliani’s honorary degree, one student group argues.

The “ongoing revelations about Mr. Giuliani’s inappropriate behavior and personal corruption represent egregious violations of the Jesuit values that guide Georgetown,” the Georgetown University College Democrats told Raw Story in a statement.

“His behavior has clearly risen to the level of ‘unethical and immoral,’ the university's standards for revoking honorary degrees,” the Georgetown University College Democrats continued. “The University should join its peer institutions across the country by immediately revoking Mr. Giuliani’s honorary degree to preserve the integrity and reputation of the school. A failure to do so would compromise Georgetown’s commitment to its Jesuit mission and the advancement of the common good.”

At St. John Fisher University, a private Catholic College near Rochester, N.Y., legal studies professor James Bowers introduced Giuliani before the former mayor received an honorary degree from the school in 2015. But Bowers has since changed his mind on Giuliani, telling Insider last year that he “clearly no longer represents the values that the Board of Trustees and our president professes that they believe in.”

According to student news organization Cardinal Courier, hundreds of alumni signed a letter asking the school to de-honor Giuliani. But university president Gerard Rooney declared in response: "After consultation with board leadership, the Board of Trustees is not planning to revisit this matter at this time."

Eighty miles east down Interstate 90, Giuliani received his earliest honorary degree in 1989 from Syracuse University’s College of Law. He also delivered Syracuse University’s commencement address in May 2002, eight months after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

But as Giuliani’s reputation as “America’s mayor” tarnished, David Bruen, president of Syracuse’s student government from 2021 to 2023, worked through the University Senate in an attempt to rescind the honorary degree.

“It was very concerning because earlier that year was January 6 and he played an integral role in disinformation and trying to overturn the result,” Bruen told Raw Story. “Joe Biden has an actual degree from (Syracuse’s) College of Law and Giuliani tried to overturn the election of an actual alum.”

The University Senate, a body of roughly 150 including students, faculty, and staff, passed a resolution to rescind the degree in spring 2022. More than 75% of the members voted in favor.

The matter went to the Board of Trustees, which commissioned a report on honorary degrees at Syracuse. Last November, the trustees passed criteria for rescinding degrees.

The criteria say Syracuse would consider rescinding an honorary degree only “in the most extreme circumstances, based on misconduct that is so egregious or shocking that it brings the character of the recipient into significant disrepute.”

ALSO READ: Trump again pushes back deadline to reveal his finances

Another part of the standard requires “clear and convincing evidence of the recipient’s misconduct, such as a criminal conviction, a finding or sanction by a court or another adjudicating body like a professional association or regulatory agency, or otherwise irrefutable evidence.”

By the end of last year, it appeared Syracuse University was poised to claw Giuliani’s degree back. But as winter turned to spring and the school year ended, Syracuse University officials hadn’t taken action.

The Syracuse University student government filed a petition for revocation with the University Senate’s Honorary Degrees Committee. Bruen, who graduated from Syracuse University earlier this month, said it will probably take a final, conclusive decision to disbar Giuliani for Syracuse to move forward with revocation of the degree.

“I have confidence that if there’s news, they’ll take action,” Bruen said. “I will be watching very closely.”

So will Giuliani.

"It'll be interesting to see who is behind these efforts to attack Mayor Giuliani and if anyone at these schools will inform these students about the basic principles of ‘innocent until proven guilty,’ and if they'll educate these students on the mayor's past as the man who took down the mafia, cleaned up New York and comforted the nation following 9/11," said Goodman, Giuliani’s spokesman.

Kanye West can start paying white nationalists from his old presidential campaign again

Rapper and former 2020 presidential candidate Kanye West can resume using surplus money from his old presidential campaign account to pay white nationalist and Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes for his services.

A week after West’s previous campaign treasurer resigned, a Federal Election Commission filing reviewed by Raw Story on Monday listed a new treasurer, Devin Anderson of Casper, Wyo.

Without a treasurer, West’s campaign couldn’t legally raise and spend campaign money.

Voice messages left at the phone number listed for Anderson on the FEC form were not answered, except for an immediate text message that said, “Sorry, I can’t talk right now.” Texts sent directly to the number were unanswered.

Kanye 2020, West's presidential committee, had almost $125,000 remaining in its account as of March 31, according to federal records. The committee paid Fuentes $30,000 during the first two months of this year for "archival services."

That's in addition to $14,719 in payments West's campaign made to Fuentes in late 2022. Of that amount, $9,026 was made on Nov. 22 and coincided with the date West and Fuentes dinedwith Donald Trump at the former president’s Florida home.

West unsuccessfully ran as an independent presidential candidate in 2020, failing to qualify for the ballot in most states and only receiving about 68,000 votes nationwide — fewer votes than the likes of Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins (about 403,000) and Party for Socialism and Liberation candidate Gloria La Riva (about 85,000).

He says he intends to run for president again in 2024 and has reportedly hired another right-wing provocateur, Milo Yiannopoulos, to lead his political operations. But to date, he has not formally registered to run again for president and has established no formal campaign operation.

West has made a string of antisemitic comments in recent years, including saying he would go “death con 3 on Jewish people.” In an interview with conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, he said, "I love Jewish people, but I also love Nazis."

Fuentes is a white nationalist and conspiracy theorist who's called COVID-19 a "hoax" and called the attack on the U.S. Capitol and a racially motivated 2022 mass shooting in Buffalo, N.Y., "falseflag" operations.

On May 8, the previous treasurer for Kanye 2020, Patrick Krason, resigned, according to a letter Krason sent the FEC.

"My name is Patrick Krason and I have resigned as Treasurer of Kanye 2020 campaign committee (C00751701) effective 9:00am EDT Monday May 8, 2023," the letter reads. "I have notified the campaign of my resignation and they have been made aware of the requirement to name a new treasurer within 10 days. I have also made them aware that they cannot raise or spend campaign funds until a new treasurer has been named. Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions or concerns."

Politico reported last week that Krason sent a letter to West alleging that Yiannopoulos might have violated campaign finance law.

NFL execs invited these 45 congressional staffers to the 2023 Draft with all expenses paid

The National Football League invited at least 45 congressional staffers — including six for House Speaker Kevin McCarthy — to attend an expenses-paid junket to the 2023 NFL Draft, according to new congressional documents reviewed by Raw Story.

The number of invites is significantly larger than what was previously known. Last week, Raw Story reported that the NFL brought about a dozen congressional staff members to Kansas City on April 27 for what the league called a “Government Affairs Congressional Forum.”

The agenda for the forum included NFL executives speaking on topics such as taxpayer financing of stadiums, player health, gambling, and diversity.

It was an unusual, if not unprecedented, event put on by the NFL, and came at a time when the world’s richest sports league is under increasing scrutiny by Congress.

Since 2010, the NFL had never hosted congressional staffers for an expenses-paid, out-of-town trip, according to a database of required disclosure reports submitted to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Ethics.

Neither Katie Hill, the NFL’s senior vice president for communication and public relations, nor Brendon Plack, the NFL’s senior vice president for public policy and government affairs, responded immediately to requests for comment.

The NFL’s 45 invitations to attend the forum included six staffers for McCarthy (R-CA), three staffers for House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA), and four staffers for House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY).

It is not immediately clear how many of the 45 congressional invitees attended. If all attended, the NFL would have spent well into the five-figure range for the staffers airfare, lodging and meals, based on the costs incurred by known attendees.

Attendees included Brandon Casey, staff director of the House Ways and Means Committee, according to an attendance list included with the recent filings. Confirmed attendees, who filed reports, included David Brewer, deputy staff director of the House Judiciary Committee.

Other confirmed attendees, according to federal records, include:

  • Hayden Haynes, chief of staff for Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA).
  • Billy Constangy, leadership chief of staff for Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC).
  • Rachel Harris, chief of staff for Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-AZ).
  • Sally Chen, senior member services adviser for the New Democrat Coalition.
  • Eric Heighberger, oversight director of the House Homeland Security Committee.
  • Tyler Grimm, chief counsel for policy and strategy for the House Judiciary Committee.
  • Dante Cutrona, chief of staff for Rep. John Joyce (R-PA).
  • James Bernhard, deputy chief of staff for Rep. Troy Carter (D-LA).

As First Republic Bank faltered, five members of Congress dumped their personal stock investments

At least five members of Congress in mid-March dumped their personal stock shares in now-defunct First Republic Bank — trades that potentially saved the lawmakers or close family members thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars, according to a Raw Story analysis of congressional financial records.

Reps. Lois Frankel (D-FL), Ro Khanna (D-CA), John Curtis (R-UT), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Dan Goldman (D-NY) each sold their shares between March 15 and March 20 as the bank’s credit rating eroded, stock price tumbled and depositors fled.

The lawmakers’ timing of the trades — four of the five bailed out of First Republic Bank stock while share prices still hovered in the $31-to-$35 range down from February highs in the $140s — allowed them to avoid additional losses beyond what they had already experienced. First Republic’s stock traded below $4 a share by the time JPMorgan Chase bought the failing bank earlier this week.

Their trades also coincided with broader bank-related action on Capitol Hill, with Congress fretting over the economic implications of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank imploding and spoolingup investigations into their failures.

While there’s no evidence that the lawmakers used information they obtained through their public service to inform their First Republic stock trades, such stock sales “can erode the public’s faith and confidence in Congress,” said Aaron Scherb, senior director of legislative affairs for Common Cause, a nonpartisan government watchdog organization.

“The perception of corruption can be just as damaging as actual corruption in many cases,” said Scherb, noting that a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers have introduced bills that would ban members of Congress and their immediate family members from trading individual stocks at all.

Why lawmakers sold First Republic shares

Khanna’s stock trade disclosures list the owners of the stock as his wife, Ritu Khanna, and their dependent child.

“Rep. Khanna does not own any individual stocks and is a co-sponsor of the TRUST in Congress Act to ban congressional stock trading,” a spokesperson for the congressman told Raw Story. “His wife has assets prior to marriage in a diversified trust managed by an independent third party, which per OGE rules eliminates any conflict. The periodic transaction reports publicly filed show that the First Republic transactions were very small relative to the portfolio and sold at a loss days after the steep fall. All trades have been disclosed.”

The trades listed as being for a child are from “a diversified trust that the family of Rep. Khanna’s wife set up for their grandchildren over which Rep. Khanna has no involvement or control.” Khanna valued the trades at between $2,002 and $30,000 — lawmakers are only required by law to disclose the value of their stock trades in broad ranges.

Frankel, one of Congress’ more active stock traders over the years, sold between $1,000 to $15,000 on March 16, when the stock price was $34.27.

Less than a week later, according to congressional financial disclosures, Frankel purchased up to $15,000 worth of shares in JPMorgan Chase, the bank that would go on to buy First Republic several weeks later.

“My account is managed independently by a money manager who buys and sells stocks at his discretion,” Frankel told Raw Story through a spokesperson.

Goldman spokesperson Simone Kanter similarly indicated that the freshman congressman, who has also established himself as one of Congress’ most frequent stock traders, had no personal involvement in the decision to sell between $1,001 and $15,000 worth of his First Republic shares. Goldman’s trades are executed by a financial adviser whose name his office declined to release.

“Congressman Goldman does not know why the stock was sold since he has had no contact with his advisor about specific trades since he entered Congress,” said Kanter, noting that Goldman has initiated a process to place his stock assets into what’s known as a qualified blind trust — a congressionally approved financial vehicle where a member of Congress formally cedes control of his or her assets to an independent money manager.

Blumenauer reported the sale of $1,001 to $15,000 in First Republic Bank stock on March 20 as a part of his spouse’s retirement portfolio, according to congressional stock disclosures.

“Congressman Blumenauer and his wife, a long-time successful attorney in Portland, have separate financial accounts. They have both retained a money manager with the power of attorney who makes financial decisions without their input or knowledge,” Hillary Barbour, Blumenauer’s communications director, said in a statement.

“For the Congressman’s spouse, the money manager occasionally engages in non-directed trades, meaning that she neither directs, approves, nor has knowledge beforehand of transactions made on her behalf. Congressman Blumenauer owns no individual stocks and has instructed the money manager to not purchase any stock on his behalf,” Barbour said.

Curtis purchased $1,001 to $15,000 worth of First Republic Bank shares on December 20 and sold stock in that same range on March 16, according to congressional disclosures. Curtis’s office did not respond to Raw Story’s requests for comment.

Push to ban congressional stock trading

During the 117th Congress from 2021 to 2022, at least 78 members of Congress — dozens of Democrats and Republicans alike — were found to have violated the STOCK Act's disclosure provisions, according to a tally maintained by Insider.

This year, Raw Story has identified three additional lawmakers — Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) and Reps. Seth Moulton (D-MA) and Gerry Connolly (D-VA) — who were late disclosing personal stock trades.

Meanwhile, news organizations including the New York Times, Insider, NPR and Sludge have documented rampant financial conflicts of interests among dozens of members of Congress, such as those who bought and sold defense contractor stock while occupying positions on congressional armed services committees or otherwise voting on measures to send such companies billions of federal dollars. The executive and judicial branches are riddled with similar financial conflict issues, too, as the Wall Street Journal hasreported.

A plan to enact a congressional stock-trade ban failed during the 2021-2022 congressional session after Democratic House leaders declined to bring any of several existing bills — including one floated by House leaders themselves — up for a vote.

But this year, a bipartisan group of lawmakers, including Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX), Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), have introduced several similar stock-ban bills in a renewed push to prohibit federal lawmakers and their spouses from trading stocks altogether. Cryptocurrency trades are also a target.

One of these lawmakers says her colleagues’ First Republic Bank trades are additional proof that members of Congress must prohibit themselves from playing the market.

“In the past few weeks, we’ve seen consistent reports of lawmakers — on both sides of the aisle — making suspiciously timed trades in the days surrounding the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and First Republic Bank,” Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), lead sponsor of a bill that would ban members of Congress and their immediate family members from trading stocks, told Raw Story.

“These trades further erode the trust that the American people have in their elected officials, and they reinforce the importance of banning members of Congress — and their spouses — from trading individual stocks,” Spanberger said. “Rather than moving on to the next news cycle, Congress needs to meet this moment with urgency, action, and a willingness to make clear that lawmakers should be serving the people, not their own stock portfolios.”

@2022 - AlterNet Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. - "Poynter" fonts provided by