Why a financial ethics report gave Utah Rep. Blake Moore a ‘danger’ rating

An Insider investigation of STOCK Act violations gave Moore a red “danger” rating, while Utah’s Sens. Mike Lee and Mitt Romney each received yellow “borderline” ratings.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Rep. Blake Moore talks about his experience in the Capitol on January 6, during a town hall meeting at the Weber County Library North Branch, in North Ogden, on Tuesday, June 1, 2021.

Utah Rep. Blake Moore is one of 14 members of Congress who violate a decade-old federal anti-conflict of interest law with greater frequency than their peers, according to an investigation by Insider.

A dozen members of the House and two Senators have violated the federal law “by failing to properly disclose financial trades, many to a significant degree,” wrote Insider’s team of investigative reporters. “Some also employ senior staff members who’ve violated the STOCK Act or haven’t themselves taken proactive steps to avoid potential conflicts of interest.”

The Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act, or simply the STOCK Act, is a 2012 federal law that prevents members of Congress from using nonpublic knowledge acquired during their professional duties to make a profit. It also established strict reporting requirements for financial transactions. The bill had near-unanimous bipartisan support in both the Senate and House before former President Barack Obama signed the bill into law in early April 2012.

The Conflicted Congress investigation graded members of Congress against six metrics: STOCK Act violations; staffer STOCK Act violations; legibility of facial disclosures; amendments to financial filings; the creation of a qualified blind trust; individual stock trades. Congressional delegates were given green “solid,” yellow “borderline” or red “danger” ratings.

“Members get a green rating if their financial compliance is solid. Yellow means caution — their actions are borderline and deserve greater scrutiny. Red means danger — that a member has multiple issues that could expose them to ethical problems,” according to Insider, whose report does not include disclosures or amendments filed after Nov. 12, 2021.

Moore’s red danger rating, according to Insider, was the result of 76 STOCK Act violations and an allegation that someone on the congressman’s senior staff had also violated the STOCK Act. And although Insider also docked Moore for continuing to trade individual stocks and for not moving his financial assets to a blind trust, they reported positively that Moore’s financial discourses had been filed legibly and without amendments correcting previous mistakes or omissions.

During his first year in the House, Moore twice missed trade disclosure deadlines established in the decade-old law.

Moore failed to legally report around 70 stock trades on time this summer — worth at the time anywhere from $70,000 to a $1 million. Later this fall he missed another federal deadline to disclose three trades made on his behalf.

A spokesperson from Moore’s office told Insider that since taking office, the congressman has made an effort to simplify his financial dealings and has already paid a fee for filing the disclosures late.

“Now that Congressman Moore has fully established a financial compliance process with his firm (managing the congressman’s finances) and the Ethics Committee, he will continue to ensure all future filing deadlines are met in accordance with Ethics rules,” communication’s director Caroline Tucker, reported Insider.

The rest of Utah’s House delegation received a “Solid” rating for this financial disclosures practices by Insider, while Sens. Mitt Romney and Mike Lee were rated borderline.

Two members of Lee’s senior staff had STOCK Act violations, as did one senior member of Romney’s staff. A spokesperson for Romney told Insider that the senior staff thought they would be granted a filing extension.

A spokesperson for Moore referred The Salt Lake Tribune to their comments in the Insider report.