Texas congressman's Twitter stock questioned November 27, 2013
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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke has reported possibly violating ethics laws after participating in Twitter's public stock debut, and the financial disclosures of another Texas congressman has been questioned by a newspaper investigation.
O'Rourke, a first-term El Paso Democrat, bought $2,600 worth of Twitter shares earlier this month when the social network made Wall Street's most anticipated public offering of the year, the El Paso Times reported Tuesday.
O'Rourke reported to the House Ethics Committee this week that his participation may have violated a new law aimed at stopping members of Congress from engaging in certain stock transactions and getting special deals. He told the newspaper he didn't see a November House memo that urged caution about participating in IPOs.
But O'Rourke said that after contacting the ethics committee to report the possible violation, he was left unsure whether he actually broke the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act passed in 2012.
"I asked if I had violated the law or ethics rules," O'Rourke said. "He said that's not clear."
O'Rourke's case is the first to come before the committee surrounding the new law, said Melanie Sloan, executive director of the watchdog group Committee for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington.
The financial dealings of another Texas congressman, Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Stockman, were also questioned this week in an investigation by the Houston Chronicle.
The Chronicle reported that Stockman, who was elected back into office in 2012 after serving one term in the 1990s, has failed to make federally required disclosures about business affiliations that stretch from Texas to the British Virgin Islands.
Stockman failed to file a federal disclosure form while running last year for his newly created congressional district that runs near the Texas coast, around Beaumont, and toward the Louisiana border. Every other Texas congressman filed the report, the newspaper reported.
In April and May, nearly a year after the deadline, Stockman filed reports listing income of $350,000 for 2011 and 2012 from an unexplained entity called "Presidential Trust Marketing."
Kathleen Clark, a professor of law at Washington University in St. Louis who reviewed the filings for the Chronicle, said Stockman omitted business relationships, bank accounts and the value of any businesses.
"Did anyone review this? Has the House Ethics Committee followed up? It just seems very odd. I would have a lot of questions for him," Clark said. "There are many things about the disclosure that I don't understand."
The Chronicle reported that Stockman did not respond to repeated requests for comments, and that one of Stockman's staffers told a reporter his office would no longer accept questions from the newspaper. Last year, Stockman and his campaign did not respond to emails or phone calls from The Associated Press about his candidacy.
O'Rourke told the El Paso Times that he did not know that his stockbroker, who he has used since 2003, had planned to participate in the Twitter sale. He said he doesn't have any greater access to IPOs than any other of clients of his stockbroker, who O'Rourke said has previously made investments and not told him about it until later.
"This is the same deal I've had for the last 10 years," O'Rourke said. "There's nothing about me being a member of Congress that got me special treatment."