Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Deanne Criswell has purchased shares of cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike Holdings Inc., a cybersecurity firm that has a relationship with the agency's parent, the Department of Homeland Security, after receiving approval from an ethics watchdog.
Criswell, who was appointed by President Biden, on Aug. 10 purchased between $15,000 and $50,000 of CrowdStrike Holdings Inc., according to a recent financial filing. As of Friday, shares were little changed from where they settled the day before Criswell's transaction.
|CRWD||CROWDSTRIKE HOLDINGS INC.||162.57||+0.04||+0.02%|
The Department of Homeland Security, which is responsible for overseeing FEMA, in October 2018 added CrowdStrike to its Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation Approved Products List, which serves to provide federal agencies with innovative security tools.
"Administrator Criswell’s ownership of Crowdstrike stock does not present a conflict of interest regarding her responsibilities as the Administrator of FEMA," a FEMA spokesperson told FOX Business.
DHS personnel must adhere to ethics requirements related to the reporting of transactions that are established by the U.S. Office of Government Ethics. Criswell received approval from FEMA Ethics before purchasing the shares and filed a timely OGE 278T form that was certified by FEMA Ethics, the DHS Office of General Counsel and Office of Government Ethics.
Criswell did not violate the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act, or STOCK Act. The STOCK Act was signed by former President Obama in 2012 and permits members and employees of Congress and other government employees and their families from using nonpublic information "as a means for making a private profit."
Criswell’s ownership of CrowdStrike shares was flagged by CongressTrading.com, a website that tracks stock-trading filings by members of Congress and other government employees.
Stock transactions conducted by members of Congress and their spouses have recently come under closer scrutiny.
The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust last week asked the Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate Assistant House Speaker Katherine Clark, D-Mass., for failing to timely disclose up to $285,000 in financial transactions. The STOCK Act says filings must be made within 30 to 45 days of the transaction.
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., have also recently been the targets of ethics complaints for potential STOCK Act violations.
Last year, four Senators, Richard Burr, R-N.C., Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., and former Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., were the subject of a Department of Justice investigation after they or their spouses sold stock before the COVID-19 pandemic caused the market to crash. None of the senators were found to have engaged in any wrongdoing.
Earlier this month, FOX Business reported that Paul Pelosi, husband of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, made $700,000 after purchasing 5,000 shares of CrowdStrike unrelated to Criswell’s actions.
Members of both chambers of Congress are working on legislation that would ban members of Congress or certain congressional officers or employees from buying and selling individual stocks.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and fellow House Democrats Rep. Joe Neguse of Colorado and Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois in March 2020 introduced the Ban Conflicted Trading Act. A companion bill was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore.
"It is absolutely wild that members of Congress are still allowed to buy and sell individual stock," Ocasio-Cortez tweeted last month. "It shouldn’t be legal."