The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), a non-partisan ethics watchdog organization, demanded an investigation into Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA) “for failing to disclose past corporate positions on her Financial Disclosure Statements.”
The watchdog filed a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) asking for a probe into the congresswoman after “Evidence shows Rep. Elaine Luria violated federal law requiring House Members to disclose association with organizations and finances.” The watchdog stated in the complaint that “Federal law and House ethics rules require House candidates and Members to publicly disclose information about their associations with organizations and finances.”
House ethics guidelines stated that candidates and congressional members must report the position without exception:
Annual filers, new Members, second-year candidates, and termination filers must report positions held at any time during the reporting period up to the date of filing. First-year candidates and new employee filers must report positions held at any time during the current calendar year up to the date of filing, plus the two prior calendar years. If you no longer hold the position, you may wish to indicate that fact parenthetically, but you still must report the position.
FACT’s complaint outlined the position that Luria held in addition to media reports and public documents filed with Virginia:
Contrary to this legal requirement, Representative Luria failed to properly disclose her position as an officer and director of a corporation. According to media reports and public documents filed with the State of Virginia, Luria served as the President (and was an officer and director) of Tidewater Montessori High School, Inc. from 2015 to 2019. In 2017, Luria was also named as the corporation’s registered agent. The corporation filed articles of dissolution on May 3, 2019, and it is unclear whether the school taught students during its existence. However, it is clear from the corporation’s filings that Luria was an officer and director of the corporation—a position that she was required to disclose on her financial disclosure statements.
In spite of this, Luria did not disclose this corporate position on any of her financial disclosure statements. At the time Luria filed her first financial disclosure statement on January 30, 2018, she was then President of the private school and was required to disclose that she held the position from 2016 to 2018. Additionally, Luria filed her 2018 financial disclosure statement on May 6, 2019—three days after the articles of dissolution were filed for the corporation. These nearly simultaneous filings clearly demonstrate Luria not only should have disclosed the position on her 2018 annual statement, but also on her 2019 annual statement. In addition to the timing, Luria’s undisclosed role appears to be inconsistent with her political position on school choice, which raises questions as to whether Luria’s omission was intentional.
The Washington Free Beacon reported that Luria, while failing to report that she was once president of the private high school, rallied against school choice and charter schools on the 2018 campaign trail, and reportedly did not mention that her daughter attended a private middle school which costs more than $12,000 per year.
“I stand strongly against voucher systems,” Luria said in 2018 during a candidate forum. “I stand strongly against any type of charter schools that would remove funding from our public education because the public education that we provide across America is the foundation of our future generation.”
“The disclosure requirements are an integral part of an ethical and transparent government: accurate and timely filing is the only method for citizens to determine whether Members have conflicts of interest or are wrongfully profiting from their position,” stated FACT’s complaint to the OCE.
FACT’s Executive Director, Kendra Arnold, said in a press release that Luria’s “lack of transparency” is what “erodes public trust and leaves citizens unaware of potential conflicts of interest”:
This federal law is fundamental and must be enforced. Whether intentional or not, it seems that Rep. Luria failed to properly disclose her corporate position on any of her Congressional Financial Disclosure Statements. Failing to do so is an egregious lack of transparency that erodes public trust and leaves citizens unaware of potential conflicts of interest. I encourage the Office of Congressional Ethics to immediately investigate Rep. Luria and impose the proper sanctions and penalties.
“If Elaine Luria can’t be trusted to be fully transparent with voters about something this simple, then you have to ask, what else is she hiding?” said Congressional Leadership Fund Press Secretary Cally Perkins. “Luria clearly believes the rules don’t apply to her and needs to be held accountable for it.”
Jacob Bliss is a reporter for Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter.