The former Congressman Harley Rouda, who lost his reelection in Congress to Congresswoman Michelle Steel last year, failed to report tens of thousands of dollars in income his family made trading stocks during the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. All Members of Congress are required to report stock transactions over $1000 within 45 days of trading them, and failing to do so is a violation of federal law designed to prevent representatives from enriching themselves while in office.
Many are calling for an ethics investigation into Rouda, who is trying to regain his seat from Congresswoman Michelle Steel in 2022. Rouda’s unreported stock trades are not the first time he has found himself in the crosshairs of ethics investigators, despite only serving a single term in Congress. Rouda, who is reported to be worth tens of millions of dollars, came under fire just a few months into his Congressional term after violating a bill he sponsored that prevented Members of Congress from serving on for-profit corporate boards.
Despite claiming to stand for campaign finance reform and aiming to remove money from politics, the SoCal Daily Pulse reported in 2019 that “a review of campaign finance disclosures shows over $600,000 in direct contributions to Rouda’s 2018 campaign came from individuals working on Wall Street and in the real estate sectors.”
In 2020, Rouda ran for reelection attempting to show himself as a moderate democrat after having voted to support the Defund Police movement. On another occasion, Rouda’s hypocrisy was evident during the COVID-19 pandemic beach closures. Rouda was caught on a private beach amid a mask-less gathering after having sided with Governor Gavin Newsom’s decision to keep people off the beaches.
According to the Orange County Register, “the reporting error comes at a time when more attention is being paid to stock dealings by members of Congress, particularly after some members were accused of profiting on information about the pandemic that was not initially shared with the public. There also is a growing push for Congress members to divest themselves of all individual stocks while in office.” Rouda’s campaign claims that he supports Members of Congress divesting all stocks while they are in office, but during his last reporting filing he still appeared to own millions of dollars in assets, including many high-valued stocks.
Rouda has since apologized for violating federal anti-corruption legislation, but has faced severe criticism for his repeated hypocrisy of going against what he claims to stand for.
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