Watchdog organization Campaign Legal Center (CLC) has filed a complaint with the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) Inspector General and the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) concerning FCC officials trading stocks in companies they are banned from trading under federal law.
According to CLC, the Communications Act prohibits any FCC employee from having a financial interest in any company significantly regulated by the Commission.
Despite this, according to CLC, FCC ethics officials have signed off on at least seven FCC employees trading stock in nine companies that the Commission significantly regulates.
These holdings included some of the largest telecommunications companies in the country, such as Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T.
Those cited by the CLC include the following current and former FCC officials: Deputy Bureau Chief Lisa Hone, Information Security Officer Andrea Simpson, Enforcement Bureau Chief Rosemary Harold, Deputy Managing Director Mindy Ginsburg, Chief of Staff and Senior Legal Advisor Wiliam Davenport, Video Division Chief Barbara Kreisman, and Chief Technology Officer Eric Burger.
The CLC compiled publicly available financial disclosure reports, identifying that FCC employees between 2018 and 2019 held nine stocks.
The records include stock holdings in AT&T, Charter Communications, Comcast, Dell, Garmin, HP, IBM, Sony, and Verizon, ranging from $1,000 to $245,000.
Although some employees held stock directly, others were held indirectly through a retirement fund or a spouse.
According to CLC legal counsel Danielle Caputo, “the investigations requested are necessary because the public has a right to know that FCC officials, who regulate an integral sector of our society, are acting in the public’s interest, not in their private financial interest.”
President Biden has promised to “renew public confidence in our democracy by ensuring that everyone in a position of public trust eliminates even the appearance that their financial holdings could influence decision-making.”
“Given that President Biden has not publicly taken any significant steps to fulfill this promise in the executive branch, each agency must uphold their own ethics rules to make the promise a reality,” the CLC said.
In CLC’s request to Acting Inspector General Sharon Diskin, available here, the CLC said the FCC repeatedly allowed officials to own stock that appears to violate ethics laws, such as in 2018 and 2019, when Burger and Harold held Verizon stock valued between $7,007 and $105,000.