Rep. Tom Price’s Democrat detractors on average tripled their wealth relative to the Georgia Republican, who is President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), The Daily Caller News Foundation Investigative Group has learned.
On average, 11 of the 12 Democrats on the panel established from the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions increased their net worth 34.7 percent between the years 2009 to 2014, according to Opensecrets.org, the last years for which data is available. No data is available for Sen. Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, who was elected in November, 2016. During the same years, Price’s net worth increased 10.1 percent.
Senators and representatives are paid $174,000 annually, plus benefits.
Democrats on the panel ripped into Price, alleging during a Wednesday hearing that he may have violated the STOCK Act, a 2012 law enacted to prevent members of Congress from using information they obtain from their work to gain an advantage in trading stocks.
Price, an orthopedic surgeon before entering Congress in 2004, acknowledged that he purchased stock in a biotech company, Innate Immunotherapeutics, before introducing legislation that might have benefited the firm. But, as he told the committee, he did so without the benefit of information that wasn’t already available to the public.
He also said he reported the purchase as required by the law and had no role in the transaction because it was done by his broker. Price had taken the position which prompted the bill six months before he introduced the measure, TheDCNF reported Tuesday.
Committee Democrats like Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota weren’t impressed with Price’s explanation. “These sound like sweetheart deals,” Franken said.
But Franken increased his net worth four times faster than did Price during the period 2009 to 2014. While Price’s net worth increased from $12,387,597 to $13,640,071, Franken’s net worth zoomed almost 44 percent for the same years, going from $5,923026 to $8,521,526.
Other Democrats on the committee increased their net worth even faster than Franken. Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, the committee’s ranking minority member, enjoyed an 88 percent increase in net worth, going from $817,008 to $1,524,509, while Sen. Robert Casey Jr. of Pennsylvania increased his net worth 81 percent, from $369,010 to $668,509.
Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia saw a 30.2 percent increase, from $1,087,007 to $1,415,518. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, saw his net worth increase a whopping 296 percent, from $105,003 to $416,013. Sanders is an Independent but he caucuses with Senate Democrats.
Other Democrats on the committee saw their net worth drop during the period 2009 to 2014. Sen. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin suffered a 67 percent decrease from $1,271,007 to $415,501. Sen. Christopher Murphy of Connecticut witnessed a 65 percent loss, dropping from $684,999 to $239,004 in net worth.
The biggest loser on the committee among Democrats in dollar terms was Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado. His net worth dropped from $16,998,510 to $13,233,516, a 22 percent decrease. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Oklahoma also had a 22 percent decrease, from $9,685,013 to $7,414,583.
Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, the committee’s Republican chairman, is the 16th wealthiest member of the Senate, but his net worth dropped by more than half from 2009 to 2014, plunging from $27,866,390 to $13,221,018.
Author Peter Schweizer, whose 2011 book on congressional corruption — ‘Throw Them All Out’ — prompted passage of the STOCK Act the following year, spoke with TheDCNF.
“Price did what many members of Congress do on a regular basis: They or their representatives traded stock in companies which they had some oversight as a powerful member of Congress,” Schweizer explained. “Do they trade on inside information and gain and advantage? Sometimes they do. But it’s a very, very difficult thing to prove legally.”
“Congress should ban individual members from trading stock. They should be in blind trusts or index funds. But Congressman Price does not appear to have done anything different than many of his colleagues do on a regular basis,” Schweizer believes.
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