Pelosi Defends Coronavirus Relief Oversight Appointment After Failure To Disclose Stock Trades
Shalala broke federal law by not disclosing stock sales in 2019 as required by the STOCK Act.
When Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appointed Rep. Donna Shalala as the sole Democrat to the five-person Congressional Oversight Commission that will oversee the Fed’s multi-trillion-dollar coronavirus stimulus, the choice raised eyebrows.
Shalala’s 2019 financial disclosures show she owns stocks in a variety of large corporations that will be lobbying the government for a bailout, from airlines to oil companies, large retailers, and hotel chains. Shalala, a freshman representative and friend of Pelosi, also has no experience in federal oversight of bailout funds, but she was the Health and Human Services Secretary for eight years under Bill Clinton. The oversight committee will provide a check on the Fed as they dole out bailout money, but the position does not involve public health.
Under pressure, the Miami representative announced Monday she would set up a blind trust and sell stocks related to the bailout.
Stunningly, several days later The Miami Herald reported Shalala broke federal law by not disclosing stock sales in 2019 as required by the STOCK Act. She admitted to CBS Miami, “It was my mistake and I take full responsibility,” and she claimed, “it was the opposite of insider trading.”
The astonishing revelation comes during increased scrutiny on Congress members’ stock transactions after two Republican senators were found to have engaged in insider trading and sold stocks after receiving briefings on the dangers of coronavirus.
An Anemic Resistance
With the coronavirus bailout garnering widespread criticism outside of Congress for its slow response and insufficient funding for Americans out of work, Democratic leadership has consistently failed to work as an effective opposition.
Shalala’s appointment by House Speaker Pelosi has been marred in controversy, yet the California Democrat refused to back down from her choice. Pelosi parroted Shalala’s apology and insisted, “since coming to Congress, Congresswoman Shalala has taken aggressive steps to avoid even the suggestion of a conflict of interest over her personal investments.”
After the news about Shalala broke, Democratic Representative Katie Porter, who has been angling for a seat on the oversight committee, said, “I will continue to speak truth to power and call out corporate abuse, regardless of whether I serve on the Congressional Oversight Commission.”
To many, Porter seemed like an obvious appointment to the committee as she has a large profile and has gone viral on matters of corporate oversight and coronavirus testing. In fact, Porter was one of the only Democrats in Congress to be pushing for a seat on the committee.
Pelosi’s choice in Shalala follows a pattern of a lack of bold action by Democratic leadership to oppose President Trump and the Republicans.
Latest Stimulus Package and Ice Cream
Politically, it’s been a rough week for Pelosi. To combine with the Shalala story, the Senate Democrats signed off on another weak stimulus package that is dividing her party and a Trump ad slamming her for being out of touch.
The latest $484 billion stimulus bill was passed Tuesday by the Senate and included money for small businesses, hospitals, and expanded coronavirus testing. But it did not include much-needed funds for the USPS, state governments, increased hazard pay for frontline workers, or voting reforms in the face of the 2020 general election potentially still in the midst of a panic.
The bill has once again exposed the fracture between the Democratic leadership and more progressive members of the House. The previous stimulus package was passed by unrecorded voice vote, but Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez publicly announced she voted against the bill and would do so again for the latest package.
Ocasio-Cortez said, “it is insulting to think that we can pass such a small amount of money,” and she added, “I need legislation that is going to save people’s lives.”
Representative Ilhan Omar also released an ambitious bill to cancel rent and mortgage payments for millions of Americans.
Meanwhile, Pelosi’s appearance on a late-night talk show made the rounds on the internet, and the Trump campaign jumped on the opportunity to use the footage in a devastating ad. In the talk show appearance, Pelosi showed the host around her house, including her freezer stocked fill with ice cream.
Due to inaction from the government, millions of Americans have turned to food banks.