Congressman Tom Price and the Stock Scandal

So I have been reading the story about Tom Price and how he purchased shares in a medical device company that would benefit from some legislation that he introduced. I was a bit concerned so I decided to dig into the facts a little bit more. Here is what I found out so you can be the judge of what happened.

Tom Price is an orthopedist so he has a real interest in issues affecting joint replacement. This is what the bill was concerned with and his bill would a delay comprehensive demonstration project to preserve treatment options for patients.  As an experienced doctor in this area he had a better understanding than most members of Congress of what this project would do and how it would affect patients.

Now to the stock issue. Cong. Price had placed his investments in a broker directed account with Morgan Stanley. In March of 2015 the broker rebalanced his portfolio and purchased 26 shares, thats right, I said 26 shares, worth a total of $2697.14. A couple of months later Cong. Price introduced his legislation and sent a Dear Colleague letter expressing his reasons. That letter was dated September 21, 2015, about six months after the broker purchased the 26 shares.

Cong. Price learned of the purchase in April of 2016 when the broker sent him a list of trades to be disclosed in his financial report which he filed in April of 2016.

Cong. Tom Price was one of the leading orthopedist in the southeast part of the United States. His financial report lists his net worth at just over $13 million. So you tell me if this purchase of stock in a medical device company that was valued at just over $2500 was about him cashing in.

Then we go to the rest of the story.  The company in question, Zimmer Biomet, made a donation of $2000 to Cong. Price’s reelection campaign through their Political Action Committee.   As donations go it was a small donation from a PAC.  That same year they gave Diana DeGette (D-CO) a donation of $3000.  Their largest contribution was to Jim Reancci (R-OH) in the amount of $6000.  I could not find any data on donations in the 2016 cycle for this company.

To give you a better perspective I would offer some other donations to candidates.  In the 2016 cycle the IBEW gave Sen. Chuck Schumer, and 18 other Democrats at least S10,000 each.  Not a dime to Republicans.  The National Association of Realtors was more bipartisan.  They gave out $10,000 donations to Senators on both sides of the aisle, including $13,000 to Senator Patty Murray (D-WA).  Did these Senators vote on any issues that would affect the realtors?  In case you say that was not an individual company lets take a look at Comcast. We all know that the communication and cable industry has had some hot issues in the past few years.  They also maxed out at $10,000 to members in the Senate on both sides of the aisle including Senator Chuck Schumer.

So how have the Democrats responded? They are outraged and demanding a full investigation. Chuck Schumer had this to say: “We are here to call on the House Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate if any laws were broken,” There’s enough evidence here that cries out for an investigation. Whether the law was actually broken, whether there was quid pro quos or inside information is the better way to put it — we don’t know.”

Forget that multiple Democrats in the Senate have traded in pharmaceutical and medical stocks over the years. In their self-righteousness they ignore something they might do and zero in on 26 shares of stock that a broker purchased in rebalancing his client’s portfolio.

You can disagree with Tom Price on policy issues and you have every right to question him on those positions. If you want to challenge him on issues that would be decided at the Department of Health and Human Resources by all means ask those questions. But if you bring up this stock purchase you are grasping at straws and trying to mislead the public into thinking there is some scandal here when in fact every member of the Committee has the facts before them and knows there is nothing there.

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