A government watchdog group is calling for a probe into Joe Manchin's (D., W.V.) failure to report ownership of a limited liability company that holds a $700,000 yacht he lives on while he is in Washington, D.C.
A complaint was filed to the Senate Select Committee on Ethics Thursday by the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), a D.C.-based ethics watchdog organization, alleging that Manchin violated Senate Ethics Rules in relation to financial disclosures.
Manchin bought a 65-foot yacht, which he named "Almost Heaven", in October 2013 for $700,000. Manchin later transferred ownership of the yacht to Country Roads Marine LLC—a West Virginia-based LLC—that Manchin and his wife incorporated and are listed as members and officers, records show. Manchin docks the boat on the Potomac River in Southeast D.C. and resides in it while he is in the city.
However, since 2013, Manchin has failed to report ownership of Country Roads Marine LLC, which FACT says is a "serious violation of Senate Ethics Rules," given they require senators to list "outside compensation, holdings, transactions, liabilities, positions held and gifts received" on their financial disclosure reports.
"Senate Ethics Rules and Federal law require that Senators ‘must indicate outside compensation, holdings, transactions, liabilities, positions held and gifts received on their Financial Disclosure Reports," the complaint notes, quoting the Senate Ethics Manual. "The Senate Ethics Manual further clarifies that Senators must disclose ‘[a]ny property held by the filer, his/her spouse, and/or dependent children for investment or the production of income' if their interest in the property is ‘worth more than $1,000 at the close of the reporting period or the property generated income of more than $200 during the reporting period."
Kendra Arnold, the executive director of FACT, said that Manchin has a history of evasive financial dealings and called his failure to report "reckless and irresponsible."
"Senator Manchin has a history of being evasive when it comes to his financial dealings and interests, which only raises more serious and troubling questions about what he is hiding, and how much, from the government and more importantly, the citizens of West Virginia," Arnold said.
"The rules regarding financial disclosure are clear and straightforward and Senator Manchin’s continued attempts to thwart these requirements is not only reckless and irresponsible but sadly serves to erode the public’s trust in our elected officials and system of government."
FACT filed a previous ethics complaint against Manchin asking for an investigation into the senator for "failing to comply" with personal financial disclosure rules and filing inaccurate reports dealing with his ownership interests in another LLC called AA Properties.
Manchin's campaign did not respond to a request for comment about the complaint by press time.