Held shares of up to $50,000 in Mowi/Norway; Campaigns bankrolled by family fossil fuel biz
Alaska Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan violated a congressional financial law by failing to report two stock sales by the federal disclosure deadline.
According to a November 3 filing, Sullivan inherited two stocks upon the death of his parent. Capitol Trades, which monitors politicians’ stock market activity, said the disclosure stated that these stocks were sold in full by a third-party investing expert who counseled against filing the trade until October 30.
Both of the trades were committed in August, Capitol Trades reported. First was the sale of $15,000 – $50,000 worth of shares of Mowi ASA (MHGVY:US), the Norwegian seafood company, formerly known as Marine Harvest ASA.
Mowi is the world’s largest producer of Atlantic salmon and is represented in 25 countries.
“The timing of the sale was excellent given that Mowi shares closed at $15.25 on November 04 while Sullivan’s exit price was $23.47,” the article said.
“Later in August, $1,000 – $15,000 worth of shares of Five Below (FIVE:US) were sold. The Senator exited this trade when FIVE closed at $129.54 while shares trade about 15% higher these days,” it added.
The late disclosures broke the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act of 2012, which aims to prevent insider trading and conflicts of interest by requiring members of Congress to report their stock sales within 45 days, reported the Anchorage Daily News.
A spokesman for Sullivan said the senator was unaware of the stock sales, which were managed by a third party, until weeks after the deadline.
Sullivan spokesman Mike Reynard told the ADN that the senator “complies with all Senate ethics and financial disclosure requirements,” adding that “as soon as the senator was made aware of the sale, the necessary steps were immediately taken.”
Liz Hempowicz, vice president of the Project On Government Oversight (POGO), said that reporting disclosures late “delays transparency” with the public, making it harder to hold lawmakers accountable.
POGO is a nonpartisan independent watchdog group that since 1981 has “investigated and exposed waste, corruption, abuse of power, and when the government fails to serve the public or silences those who report wrongdoing.”
Hempowicz added that while STOCK Act violations do shine a light on the fact that members of Congress can participate in the stock market despite ethics concerns that they have access to insider information, it’s not the missed filing deadlines that are “outraging the public.”
“They are outraged to hear that members of Congress are engaged in this kind of financial behavior with zero restrictions,” she said.
Late STOCK Act disclosures come with a $200 fine, though they have not always been enforced. Members of Congress can also apply for a waiver.
Fossil fuels is another Sullivan stock favorite, power his campaigns
Senator Sullivan rarely trades stocks, according to Sludge, an independent, nonprofit news outlet that produces investigative journalism on lobbying and money in politics.
He reported just 9 trades in the last 3 years, mostly in the Industrials sector.
“RPM International (RPM:US) is his favorite stock for trading,” the report said.
RPM International is a $6.7 multinational company owned by the Sullivan family that makes chemical products derived from petroleum, including several product lines that are designed for use in fossil fuel extraction and shipping.
RPM International was founded by Sullivan’s grandfather and is now run by his brother Frank Sullivan, while another brother is a vice president.
Dan Sullivan owns between $1 million and $5 million worth of shares in RPM International. The report said he made multiple sales of the company’s shares last year, pocketing as much as $300,000, according to reports filed with the Senate Office of Public Records.
The Sludge article stated: “Among its many brands is ValvTect, which describes itself as “the leading U.S. supplier of fuel additives to fuel distributors,” and Specialty Polymer Coatings, which makes coatings for the global oil and gas pipeline industry.
RPM’s Carboline makes coatings and fireproofing products that are used in the oil and gas upstream industry, particularly on offshore drilling rigs.
Family business also fuels Sullivan’s campaigns
RPM International’s PAC and employees have also been top donors to Sullivan’s election campaigns, Sludge reports.
The company’s PAC has given Sullivan $15,000, while its employees have given him $137,775.
In the 2020 election cycle, those employees were mostly executives and included the senator’s brother Thomas Sullivan, Jr., a vice president at RPM who gave the maximum allowed amount of $5,600.
The Center for Responsive Politics found RPM to be Sullivan’s third largest career donor and the largest donor to his recent 2020 re-election campaign. An additional $44,243 was donated by RPM employees to Sullivan’s leadership PAC in his most recent election cycle. Sullivan was first elected to the Senate with the help of a super PAC called Alaska’s Energy/America’s Values that was funded by $375,000 from his brothers, Thomas and Frank Sullivan.