Utah Rep. Curtis’ COVID-Related Stock Trades Prompt Watchdog’s Calls for Investigation
As Economy Tumbled & Millions Lost Jobs, Curtis Sought to Profit from Crisis
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Accountable.US, a leading government watchdog group, filed a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate Utah Representative John Curtis for potential violations of the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act and House Ethics Rules.
Recent congressional filings revealed how Curtis traded stocks that stood to benefit from the health crisis or congressional action, such as video conference provider Zoom, e-commerce giant Amazon, COVID testing company Abbott Laboratories and many others. The trades were first reported last week by The Salt Lake Tribune.
“Representative Curtis may already be a millionaire, but that didn’t stop him from using this crisis to make a few bucks,” said Kyle Herrig, president of Accountable.US. “We know that Curtis was trying to game the market for his own financial benefit and he may have used confidential information to inform his trading strategy. Congress should launch an investigation to get to the bottom of what Curtis did and hold him accountable for any wrongdoing. We need to send a strong signal to our elected officials that attempts to profit off this crisis will not be tolerated.”
Full text of the OCE complaint and request for investigation can be found here.
KEY EXCERPTS FROM OFFICE OF CONGRESSIONAL ETHICS COMPLAINT:
“A periodic transaction report recently filed by Representative Curtis strongly suggests that he may have used nonpublic information related to the public health crisis caused by the spread of the novel Coronavirus, COVID-19 –information that he derived from his official position — for his own personal profit.”
“On March 4, 2020, Curtis purchased up to $15,000 in stock in the video conferencing service Zoom, which has since seen its usage increase twenty-fold due to the increase in remote work during the Coronavirus crisis. That same day, Rep. Curtis purchased up to $15,000 worth of 6 stock in Atlassian Corporation, another software company that develops tools used for remote workers, and up to $15,000 of stock in Amazon.com.
“These purchases occurred more than a 7 week before President Donald Trump declared a national emergency in response to the Coronavirus outbreak on March 13, and weeks before California’s governor issued a 8 stay-at-home order, the first of many to come in the following weeks.”
“On March 27, the same day the House of Representatives approved passage of the CARES Act, a $2 trillion dollar economic relief package aimed to assist individuals and businesses affected by the crisis, Rep. Curtis purchased up to $50,000 of Amazon stock and up to $15,000 worth of 11 stock in Abbott Laboratories, the same day that Abbott received an FDA Emergency Use Authorization for their Coronavirus test.”
“I urge OCE to commence an immediate investigation into Representative Curtis’s conduct to determine if any violation of the STOCK Act has occurred, or if he otherwise used his official position for personal profit in violation of federal law and House Ethics Rules.”