Watchdog Group Demands ‘Ethics Investigation’ Into Senator’s Stock Trades

The Foundation of Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT) called on the Senate Select Committee on Ethics to investigate Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) regarding questionable stock trades. FACT is questioning his sale of shares of Robinhood, the online brokerage company involved in last year’s “meme stock” craze.

Blumenthal is one of the wealthiest senators and sold shares in Robinhood worth up to $2.5 million without disclosing the transaction within 45 days as required by federal law.

FACT Executive Director Kendra Arnold wrote a letter to Sens. Chris Coons (D-DE) and James Lankford (R-OK) as the chair and vice-chair of the ethics panel, stating that in addition to violating the disclosure law, Blumenthal’s trades raise serious concerns about conflicts of interest.

The complaint comes as a bipartisan group of lawmakers has introduced bills designed to prevent sitting members of Congress and their spouses from owning and trading individually owned stocks.

Blumenthal purchased his interest in Robinhood with his wife on February 1, 2021. That was the same day he joined with other lawmakers to call for congressional investigations into the “meme stock” speculation frenzy centered on shares of GameStop’s video game retailer. In turn, Robinhood blamed its online trading platform for helping create a high-risk speculative bubble in GameStop and other endangered companies.

Blumenthal joined the chorus of lawmakers demanding an investigation but did not use his position as chairman of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection to start one. That subcommittee oversees the Federal Trade Commission, flooded with complaints about Robinhood’s practices.

Blumenthal has said that he is innocent of any wrongdoing and claims he was unaware of his stake in Robinhood since he says a trust made the trades that his wife’s wealthy family controls. He has still not explained why he delayed making the legally required disclosures of the trades. His late filing disclosed a sale of Robinhood shares worth up to $550,000 last December 8.

Arnold’s complaint letter said that Blumenthal could use non-public information for his profit by deciding when to buy or sell stocks or refraining from taking official actions to benefit his portfolio. She called for an investigation and “appropriate sanctions.”

A spokesperson for Blumenthal said that he “had nothing to do with those stock trades” and supports banning lawmakers from “owning or trading individual stocks.”