WASHINGTON — Two sets of documents released by a federal ethics watchdog outline the steps Georgia Congressman Tom Price plans to take in order to avoid conflicts of interest as Donald Trump’s would-be secretary of health and human services, including selling many of his stocks.
The Roswell Republican pledged to “not participate personally and substantially in any particular matter” before the Department of Health and Human Services “in which I know that I have a financial interest directly and predictably affected by the matter.”
The seven-term House lawmaker also promised that if confirmed by the Senate, he plans to resign from his positions as managing partner of Chattahoochee Associates, an Atlanta-area surgical group he’s been associated with since 1993. He said he would do the same for his role as a delegate for the American Medical Association, as well as personally abstain from matters that directly involve the trade group for a year unless he gets a waiver.
The ethics documents are routine for Cabinet nominees. They were dated Jan. 11 and released by the Office of Government Ethics, the independent agency tasked with preventing conflicts of interest among federal employees.
Price also vowed to sell his stock in more than three-dozen companies, including pharma giants Eli Lilly and Pfizer, CVS, and the biotech firm Biogen. He said he would do the same for his shares in other major corporations such as Apple, CBS and Delta Airlines.
Also on the list was Innate Immunotherapeutics. The Australian biotech company has been the subject of intense interest after Price purchased $10,000 in stock in January 2015 and later that year invested between $50,000 and $100,000 — days after colleague Chris Collins, R-N.Y., purchased ten times that amount.
“The Office of Government Ethics has completed an exhaustive review of Dr. Price’s financial holdings and just as Dr. Price was compliant with congressional disclosure rules, Dr. Price will comply fully with the recommendations put forward by the ethics office,” Trump transition spokesman Phil Blando said in a statement.
Price’s documents come as Senate Democrats agitate for an investigation into his finances following a report in The Wall Street Journal that the Republican traded more than $300,000 in shares of health-related stock while pushing legislation on Capitol Hill that could have an impact on those businesses’ bottom lines. Under congressional insider trading laws, lawmakers can’t buy or sell stocks using nonpublic information acquired in their positions.
The new filings mean the Senate Finance Committee can now move forward and schedule Price’s confirmation hearing. The panel was waiting for the information from the Office of Government Ethics before setting a date. The first of Price’s two confirmation hearings, in front of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, is scheduled for Jan. 18.
Blando said the transition team expects the Senate to move “expeditiously” on Price’s nomination now that the Office of Government Ethics has signed off on his financials.
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