Yesterday, Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan political watchdog group, alleged that Iowa Congresswoman Cindy Axne violated the STOCK (Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge ) Act and House ethics rules, after purchasing 40 assets and then not disclosing the transaction, as required by law. The assets ranged in value from $43,000 to $645,000.

In the letter addressed to the Office of Congressional Ethics chairman, Mike Barnes, and chair Paul Vinovich, the organization establishes that while Axne filed her annual financial disclosures, she failed to disclose the transactions via periodic transaction reports (PTR’s). Therefore, the organization maintains that a preliminary investigation is appropriate to ensure that all required disclosures are made and determine why the Congresswoman was trying to avoid the type of scrutiny the law mandates. 
 
The letter from the Campaign Legal Center lays out why this error has such important implications. By reporting ownership of the asset but not timely disclosure of when the trade happens, Axne is undermining the entire purpose of the law, which was to ensure disclosure of possible conflicts of interest in real-time. 
 
The letter further notes that based on the frequency and scale of the incidents, it is “unlikely to be merely an oversight.” 
 
Criticism against Axne has been swift. The Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Jeff Kaufmann dismissed statements from Axne’s campaign and official office, claiming it was merely an oversight.
 
“Cindy Axne was a member of the Financial Services Committee when she tried to illegally hide these stock trades,” said Kaufmann. “It is clear: Axne hid hundreds of thousands of dollars from public scrutiny.” 
Thursday, Kaufmann reiterated his position on a press call, highlighting that Axne’s hidden stock assets included Visa, Mastercard, and Wells Fargo. 
 
“Cindy Axne put personal profit ahead of her ethical obligations to her constituents,” said CLF Communications Director Calvin Moore. “Axne was buying and trading the very companies taxpayers have trusted her to oversee, and then hid those transactions from public view.”
 
Axne has also suggested that the failure to disclose the transactions resulted from her not managing her retirement account. Kaufmann dismissed this, noting that Axne is not new to Congress, and she and her staff have received regular training and reminders on how members are to disclose this information properly.  Kaufmann also points back to the report, which outlines that even IF Axne did not know of the requirements at the time of the trades, there have since been several high-profile insider trading allegations which engulfed senators in March 2020
According to the law, if prosecuted for the crime, Axne could face a fine or even up to 5 years in prison. 
 
Kaufmann believes the committee shouldn’t take it easy on Axne. 
“It’s my hope that the committee deals with Cindy Axne swiftly and justly, and not with just a slap on the wrist, to stop this sort of political corruption once and for all,” Kaufmann said. “Cindy Axne’s actions are exactly what people hate about the swamp. Have any of you forgotten that you traded a half-million dollars?”

The full letter of the complaint is available below.

Axne_OCE Complaint_Final_