San Nicolas included in ethics complaint over allegedly failing to report stock trades

Congressman Michael San Nicolas (PNC file photo)

Congressman Michael San Nicolas has been included in an ethics complaint over failing to report stock trades.

Six other U.S. House lawmakers, most of whom, like San Nicolas, sit on the powerful House Financial Services Committee, are included in the ethics complaint.

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According to Campaign Legal Center, San Nicolas made securities transactions worth between $15,001 and $52,370 without filing periodic transaction reports as was required by the STOCK Act and House rules.

San Nicolas has denied any wrongdoing and said the trades referenced were disclosed. The Guam congressman said he is consulting with legal counsel on the matter.

Campaign Legal Center, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) government watchdog group in the United States supporting strong enforcement of United States campaign finance laws, is pushing for an investigation of San Nicolas for a possible violation of the STOCK Act and House rules.

According to CLC, San Nicolas’ annual financial disclosures in 2019 and 2020 reveal
that he sold Livent stock worth $2,370 in 2020 and call options in Yamana Gold worth between $15,001 and $50,000 in 2019.6

“Yet, Del. San Nicolas did not file timely PTRs within 45 days of these sales, as was required. These sales were made after Del. San Nicolas was elected as the Vice-Chair of the House Financial Services Committee,” CLC stated in a letter to the Office of Congressional Ethics.

Based on publicly available information, CLC said it is unclear whether a reason for the late filings was an attempt to avoid scrutiny of trades connected with non-public information or with potential conflicts of interest.

CLC said accepting Del. San Nicolas’ failure to timely file his periodic transaction reports (PTRs) as merely an oversight would require an assumption that he was not familiar with the requirement and had not received any training.

“Two factors suggest that Del. San Nicolas was in fact aware of the requirement and may have knowingly avoided disclosing his stock trades at the time they were made. First, Del. San Nicolas was required to attend mandatory ethics training for new members of Congress in 2019. This training includes discussion of financial disclosures and the STOCK Act … Second, Del. San Nicolas should certainly have known about the disclosure requirements at the time of the 2020 transaction, as, in March of that year, high profile insider trading allegations engulfed several senators and became widely publicized,” CLC stated.

For these reasons, CLC said San Nicolas cannot excuse his failure to report with a claim that he was unfamiliar with the financial disclosure requirements.

The watchdog group has recommended that the Office of Congressional Ethics conduct a preliminary review to gather information to determine whether San Nicolas knowingly violated the STOCK Act.