Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky revealed Wednesday that his wife in February 2020 purchased up to $15,000 in stock in Gilead Sciences, the maker of the antiviral drug remdesivir.
Remdesivir later became the first drug to be approved for treating Covid-19. Paul’s filing with the Senate shows that between $1,000 and $15,000 of Gilead stock was purchased.
The STOCK Act – which was enacted in 2012 to outlaw congressional insider trading, or the use of nonpublic information for one’s financial benefit – requires trade disclosures within 45 days. Paul’s reporting came 16 months late.
The financial disclosure was more than a year late because the initial filing wasn’t properly transmitted, according to Paul spokesperson Kelsey Cooper, who also noted that Paul’s wife, Kelley, lost money on the investment.
“Last year Dr. Paul completed the reporting form for an investment made by his wife using her own earnings, an investment which she has lost money on. This was done in the appropriate reporting time window,” Cooper said in a statement.
“In the process of preparing to file his annual financial disclosure for last year, he learned that the form was not transmitted and promptly alerted the filing office and requested their guidance. In accordance with that guidance he filed both reports today.”
News of the delayed financial disclosure drew swift backlash from government ethics experts and advocates on Wednesday.
“The senator ought to have an explanation for the trade and, more importantly, why it took him almost a year and a half to discover it from his wife,” James Cox, a law professor at Duke University, told The Washington Post, which first reported the disclosure.
“The fact that he didn’t disclose it, and the investigations of other senators for possible insider trading related to Covid didn’t trigger him to disclose, it is very troubling,” Walter Shaub, a senior ethics fellow with the Project on Government Oversight, said Thursday on CNN’s “New Day,” adding that it wouldn’t matter if Paul’s wife made or lost money off the trade for it to be acceptable.
The coronavirus pandemic brought congressional stock trading activity into sharp focus when a number of lawmakers came under fire for dropping stocks from their portfolios ahead of the massive stock market selloff that came on the heels of the worsening pandemic.
The Department of Justice investigated several members of Congress for insider trading but has since closed those probes.
Paul, who was the first US senator to test positive for Covid-19, has repeatedly rebuked public health guidance and has publicly challenged Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, on a number of occasions.
Earlier this week, Paul was suspended from YouTube for seven days over a video claiming that masks are ineffective in fighting Covid-19, according to a company spokesperson.
CNN’s Anneken Tappe, Scott Bronstein and Veronica Stracqualursi contributed to this report.