Florida Congressional Hopeful Illegally Omitted Stock Holdings From Her Financial Disclosure, Watchdog Says

As Annette Taddeo accuses oil companies of 'price gouging,' she won't tell voters if she's still invested in Exxon

Democratic Florida congressional candidate Annette Taddeo / @Annette_Taddeo
September 29, 2022

Florida Democratic congressional hopeful Annette Taddeo illegally omitted stock holdings from her candidate financial disclosure, a new complaint says. A look into her past disclosures may explain why—Taddeo in 2016 reported a sizable stake in a U.S. oil giant and now accuses oil companies of "price gouging."

In her July 6 financial disclosure, Taddeo—who is running to unseat Rep. Maria Salazar (R., Fla.)—violated federal law and House ethics rules by failing to disclose the stocks held within her investment accounts, a Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust complaint obtained exclusively by the Washington Free Beacon states. During her failed congressional run in 2016, however, Taddeo did disclose the stocks within those accounts, which included a $100,000 stake in America's largest oil company, ExxonMobil.

That holding may explain why Taddeo is hesitant to reveal her investments during her second congressional campaign. Taddeo on July 15 accused Salazar of failing to stand up to oil companies, which the Democrat accused of "price gouging at the pumps." On her campaign site, meanwhile, Taddeo pledges to "be a champion in Congress for taking on [the] corporate greed that's worsened our current economic crisis" and "push for solutions to stop big gas companies from price gouging." But Taddeo earned up to $5,500 in Exxon dividends from January 2015 to April 2016, profit that could undermine her attempts to vilify big oil companies should she still hold the stock.

Taddeo's campaign did not return a request for comment. The Democrat's criticism of Salazar on gas prices stems from Salazar's May vote against House Democrats' so-called Consumer Fuel Price Gouging Prevention Act. While the bill's sponsor, Rep. Kim Schrier (D., Wash.), said the legislation would "protect families' wallets at the gas pump," other Democrats acknowledged that it would do nothing to address inflation. Jason Furman, who chaired former president Barack Obama's Council of Economic Advisers, called the bill "dangerous misguided nonsense," and Taddeo's fellow Florida Democrat, Rep. Stephanie Murphy, said it would "strangle production."

"I think vilifying one sector doesn't actually address the inflation issues that my constituents are facing," Murphy, who voted against the bill, told ABC News in May.

Taddeo has a long history of losing campaigns. Prior to her bid against Salazar, Taddeo in 2008 ran for Congress unsuccessfully in Florida's 18th Congressional District. Two years later, Taddeo ran for an open seat on Miami's county commission, which she also lost. In 2014, Taddeo served as Democratic gubernatorial nominee Charlie Crist's running mate—the pair lost to incumbent Republicans Rick Scott and Carlos López-Cantera. Not long after, in 2016, Taddeo ran for Congress in Florida's 26th Congressional District but did not advance past the primary, losing to fellow Democrat Joe Garcia.

During that 2016 race, a leaked Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee research document said Taddeo's failed runs for office could make her look "incompetent." The memo also noted Taddeo has "called herself a member of the middle class despite being worth $5.7 million and living in a 6,500-square-foot mansion," leading many to "view her as a wealthy elitist who lacks commonality with everyday middle-class families." Taddeo quickly sold the "mansion," property records show.

Following her four losing campaigns, Taddeo managed to win her 2017 campaign for a Florida state Senate seat, which she still holds. Taddeo in October 2021 launched a campaign for governor but vacated the bid in June to run against Salazar. She will face the Republican in November, having raised $681,000 to Salazar's $3.9 million as of Aug. 3.