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Report shows stock trading conflicts for 3 Minnesota members of Congress; 1 from North Dakota

Minnesota Sen. Tina Smith, as well as Reps. Angie Craig and Dean Phillips, all Democrats, reported transactions involving companies influenced by committees they sit on. Republican North Dakota Sen. John Hoeven also reported potential conflicts.

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ST. PAUL — Three members of Minnesota’s Congressional delegation and a North Dakota senator were flagged for potential stock trading conflicts of interest in a report published this week by The New York Times.

The report flagged 97 members of the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate who bought or sold stock or other financial assets or reported transactions by spouses or dependent children.

The analysis covered transactions between 2019 and 2021 from a congressional financial disclosure database. The Times matched the transactions with members’ committee assignments and the dates of hearings and other congressional investigations.

Members of Congress are required to disclose trades but are not banned from trading while in office. Some members have their assets moved into blind trusts to avoid the appearance of a conflict. In recent years there have been growing calls for greater restrictions on members’ ability to trade stocks.

Minnesota Sen. Tina Smith, as well as Reps. Angie Craig and Dean Phillips, all Democrats, reported transactions involving companies influenced by committees they sit on. Republican North Dakota Sen. John Hoeven also reported several conflicts.

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The Times did not find any conflicts among members from South Dakota or Wisconsin.

Tina Smith

Democratic Minnesota Sen. Tina Smith reported trades in four companies between 2019 and 2021, three of which had potential conflicts.

U.S. Sen. Tina Smith_web.jpg
U.S. Sen. Tina Smith

Smith’s husband, Archie Smith, who invests in medical device companies, had shares in two insulin equipment makers when Smith became a senator in early 2018. While in the Senate, Smith has pushed for measures that would make insulin more affordable, though it's not clear how those bills would affect stock prices for the companies.

Archie Smith sold shares in the device companies in 2020, according to the report. Sen. Smith told The Times she does not know about and has "absolutely no role" in her husband's investment decisions.

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Angie Craig

Rep. Angie Craig reported two trades with potential conflicts, both made by her college student son in 2019. The southern Twin Cities Congresswoman discovered her son had traded shares in Lyft and Ford without her knowledge while she served on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, which she later reported.

In a statement, Craig’s office said she has supported banning members of Congress and their spouses and dependent children from stock trading since “day one” and sold her individual stocks before taking office.

Rep. Angie Craig
Angie Craig talks to attendees at a town hall meeting at Burnsville High School on Jan. 26, 2019.
Tim Nelson / MPR News

“As a mom, I would be grateful if my college student son was not allowed to own or trade stocks. And as a member of Congress, I’m working to pass a law to force him to listen to his mother,” Craig said in a statement.

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Craig’s district covers southern Twin Cities suburbs including Eagan and rural areas to the south and southeast of the Twin Cities extending to the Wisconsin border. Her district is generally considered by political observers to be among the most competitive in Minnesota. This year she is running against 2020 Republican challenger Tyler Kistner and Legal Marijuana Now candidate Paula Overby.

Dean Phillips

Dean Phillips
Rep. Dean Phillips

Rep. Dean Phillips, who represents Minnesota’s Third Congressional District in the western Twin Cities suburbs, reported the most transactions of any of the members from Minnesota. Between 2019 and 2021, he reported trades in 276 companies, 34 of which had potential conflicts, according to the report.

Phillips bought or sold stocks and bonds from more than two dozen banking companies while he sat on the House Financial Services Committee, according to the report. Some he sold days before executives testified before the committee. He now sits on the House Committee on Ethics, which is tasked with enforcing stock disclosure requirements.

In a tweet, Phillips said he has not personally directed trades since 2018.

“I don’t trade stocks and haven’t had contact w/my advisors since 2018,” he wrote. “My assets are in a 'blind trust', meaning I can’t see what is bought and sold on my behalf.”

A spokesperson told the Times that Phillips hired a law firm in 2020 to move the stocks into a blind trust — a process that took until July 2021.

Phillips is running for his second term and faces a challenge from Republican Tom Weiler.

John Hoeven

While sitting on two energy-related committees, North Dakota’s senior Sen. John Hoeven purchased $300,000-$600,000 in oil and power company stocks, the Times found. In 2020, he moved all of his stock holdings outside of his control.

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“Sen. Hoeven follows Senate Ethics rules for investment and reporting, and all his marketable investments are now in mutual funds or a blind trust,” a spokesperson said in a statement.

John Hoeven
John Hoeven

Overall, Hoeven reported trades in 29 companies with seven presenting potential conflicts. The Senator sits on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, and the Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee.

Hoeven is seeking his third term in office this November and faces Democrat Katrina Christiansen and Independent Rick Becker.

Alex Derosier covers Minnesota breaking news and state government for Forum News Service.
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