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Axne: Financial disclosure errors ‘unintentional’
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Axne: Financial disclosure errors ‘unintentional’

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DES MOINES — U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne’s failure to disclose some financial transactions was an unintentional error that will soon be remedied, her office said, while Iowa partisans traded jabs over the matter Thursday.

Axne’s undisclosed transactions were highlighted by a nonpartisan government watchdog this week in a written request that Congress’ ethics committee investigate the disclosures.

The Campaign Legal Center has asked the Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate Axne’s failure to disclose what the center said was more than 40 transactions with a potential financial range of anywhere from roughly $43,000 to $645,000.

The center said the failure to disclose those transactions could be a violation of the STOCK Act, a federal law that requires members of Congress to disclose certain financial transactions to help prevent insider trading.

The Campaign Legal Center filed similar requests for transactions by six other members of Congress. All told, the requests apply to four Democrats and three Republicans.

Axne is a Democrat in her second term representing central Iowa’s 3rd District. She sits on the House Committee on Financial Services. A spokesman for her office said any failures to disclose financial transactions were unintentional, and suggested the transactions were conducted by a retirement account.

“In accordance with her legal requirements, she has submitted all required disclosures of her assets through her first three years in Congress. If there are errors with those disclosures, they are unintentional and the Congresswoman will take immediate and all necessary steps to ensure her disclosures are accurate and in accordance with the law,” Axne’s spokesman said. “While Congresswoman Axne completes her own financial disclosures, she does not personally manage or execute transactions related to her retirement account or the ones she has with her husband or her small business.”

The Campaign Legal Center’s report suggested Axne should have been aware of the requirements, given ethics training given to all members of Congress, and because of allegations of insider trading by members of Congress at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

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“I think it’s a little bit of a trend among lawmakers who aren’t complying with the STOCK Act to say, ‘I don’t make my own trades. I have an investment adviser who makes trades for me.’ But the rules apply, regardless of whether you have a financial adviser,” said Delaney Marsco, senior legal counsel for ethics for the Campaign Legal Center.

Regarding Axne’s pledge to complete the disclosures, Marsco said a delayed disclosure is better than none at all, but it also circumvents the spirit of the STOCK Act.

“One of the purposes of the STOCK Act is to ensure that we essentially have real-time disclosure of stock transactions,” Marsco said.

Iowa’s Republican and Democratic state leaders on Thursday traded accusations over the issue.

Republican Party of Iowa state chairman Jeff Kaufmann said he does not believe Axne’s explanation, and said if true, members of Congress should be held to a higher standard.

“When you’re a member of Congress you don’t get to hide behind that you hire people to manage things,” Kaufmann told reporters. “The bottom line is the responsibility rests on her.”

Iowa Democratic Party state chairman Ross Wilburn said any assertion that Axne is attempting to hide her finances is “just ridiculous.”

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