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Suozzi acknowledges failing to file stock transaction reports

U.S. Representative Tom Suozzi (D-NY) speaking at a

U.S. Representative Tom Suozzi (D-NY) speaking at a press conference on July 30 in Washington. Credit: Sipa USA via AP/Michael Brochstein

WASHINGTON — Rep. Tom Suozzi acknowledged Thursday that he failed to file required periodic reports of his stock transactions while in Congress after an outside watchdog group filed a complaint against him and six other lawmakers with the Office of Congressional Ethics.

Suozzi, a Glen Cove Democrat, made about 300 stock trades with a total value ranging from about $3.2 million to $11 million from 2017 through 2020, but didn’t file the periodic reports required by the STOCK Act and House rules, according to the Campaign Legal Center.

The center — a nonpartisan nonprofit that uses the law to promote voting rights, congressional transparency and other ethical issues — asked the office to investigate whether Suozzi knowingly and willfully withheld the reports, which are due 45 days after the transactions under the law and rules that take aim at lawmaker insider trading.

Suozzi’s spokesman acknowledged that the representative didn’t file the reports, but said it was a result of a "misunderstanding." The spokesman said that independent advisers handle the stocks and that Suozzi filed annual reports that listed all the transactions.

"The Congressman’s investments are managed through independent advisers with discretion over all transactions," Suozzi’s spokesman said in a statement.

"Due to a misunderstanding, periodic transaction reports were not filed, but every transaction was reported on his annual financial disclosure. Going forward all proper periodic disclosures will be filed on a timely basis," he said.

"We're asking that the Office of Congressional Ethics investigate to determine whether this was intentional or there was some other reason for this violation of the rule," said Kedric Payne, general counsel at the center.

The center’s complaint said Suozzi should have known about the 45-day report requirement because he took a mandatory ethics training as a new member of Congress and because of news of other members of Congress being investigated for not filing the reports.

Suozzi could face a $200 fine for each missed report if the Office of Congressional Ethics and House Ethics Committee determines that he did not knowingly and willfully violate the law and House rules. If the committee finds that he did knowingly violate the law, he could face a much larger fine and prison time.

Last year, the Ethics Committee fined Rep. Donna Shalala (D-Fla.) $200 for each of the six periodic transaction reports she did not file within 45 days of the purchases or sales of stocks, according to the Miami Herald.

Suozzi is the wealthiest member of the five Long Island members of the House, with a net worth of between $1.7 million and $4.2 million in 2018, according to estimates based on his annual financial statements by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

According to the complaint, Suozzi had about 64 transactions valued between $456,064 and $1,865,000 in 2017; 31 transactions valued between $528,031 and $1,445,000 in 2018; 104 stock trades with a total value ranging from $1.1 million to $3.8 million in 2019, and 104 trades with a total value ranging from $1.1 million to $4 million in 2020.

The STOCK Act, sponsored by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) in the Senate and former Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-Rochester) in the House, was enacted in 2012 with the aim of using public disclosure to stop insider trading by lawmakers.

The center also filed complaints against Rep. Cindy Axne (D-Iowa), Rep. Warren Davidson (R-Ohio), Rep. Lance Gooden (R-Texas), Delegate Michael San Nicolas (D-Guam), Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) and Rep. Roger Williams (R-Texas).

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