Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D., Conn.) is denying that he owns individual stocks even after he disclosed that his family’s investment fund bought millions of dollars worth of shares earlier this year.
Blumenthal, one of the richest members of Congress, claimed last month that he does not own stocks. But Blumenthal disclosed to the Senate Ethics Committee earlier this month that an investment fund controlled by his wife’s family bought between $1 million and $2 million in shares of four tech companies on Jan. 31, days before he denied owning any stocks. Asked about the apparent contradiction on Tuesday, Blumenthal’s office insisted to the Washington Free Beacon that he does not own any private stocks and that neither he nor his wife conducted any of the trades in his family’s portfolio.
Blumenthal’s denial appears to rest on the claim that his wife is the true owner of the stock portfolio. But the head of the watchdog group Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust rejects that defense.
"There is no distinction between him owning individual stocks and the family trust owning them, which is proven by the fact that he must disclose them," said Kendra Arnold, the executive director of the foundation.
The Blumenthals’ trades come amid a bipartisan push to ban members of Congress and their spouses from owning stocks in order to prevent insider trading. Blumenthal has said that he supports a ban on members of Congress owning shares of individual companies.
The Blumenthals purchased between $250,000 and $500,000 each of Microsoft, Amazon, Intel, and Google parent company Alphabet, according to disclosures filed on March 3. The trades were conducted through an investment fund controlled by Blumenthal’s in-laws, a wealthy real estate family in New York.
The holdings pose a potential conflict for Blumenthal, who serves on both the Senate Commerce and Judiciary Committees, which have worked on legislation related to tech companies. Blumenthal cosponsored a bill this year that would tighten regulation on some tech firms.
Three of the tech companies in Blumenthal’s portfolio have contributed to his campaign. Microsoft has contributed $16,000 to Blumenthal’s campaign and his leadership PAC since 2017, according to Federal Election Commission records. Intel gave $2,500 to Blumenthal’s leadership PAC in 2020, while Amazon contributed $5,000 to his campaign in 2016.
"Anytime there is overlap between congressional business and personal financial investments, it raises serious conflict of interest concerns," Arnold told the Free Beacon.
Blumenthal first denied owning individual stocks after the Free Beacon reported last month that his family fund sold between $1,265,000 and $2,550,000 worth of shares of Robinhood, the controversial online brokerage company. Blumenthal failed to disclose some of the transactions within the 45-day deadline required by the STOCK Act. His family fund purchased some of the Robinhood shares on the same day that Blumenthal called for congressional investigations into the company’s role in the "meme stock" trading frenzy. Blumenthal did not open an investigation himself, even though he is a chairman of a Senate subcommittee for consumer protection.
Blumenthal has not said whether he supports legislation to ban congressional spouses from owning stocks. He has also not addressed how he will handle his family investment fund.
A spokeswoman for Blumenthal said he has "consistently supported" a ban on members of Congress from owning or trading individual stocks.
"Senator Blumenthal owns no individual stock—including stock in Amazon, Alphabet, Intel, or Microsoft. He had nothing to do with these stock trades. Neither he nor his wife had any control over these transactions," Maria McElwain, the Blumenthal spokeswoman, told the Free Beacon.
She did not respond to follow-up questions about who owns the investment portfolio or whether Blumenthal also supports a ban on spouses from owning individual stocks.