- Democratic Rep. Marie Newman’s husband has an active stock portfolio.
- He’s invested in many companies affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
- Members of Congress and their families are allowed to invest in individual companies.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Jim Newman, husband to freshman Democrat Rep. Marie Newman of Illinois, has bought and sold numerous pandemic-affected stocks since January, according to congressional financial disclosure forms reviewed by Insider.
Jim Newman, chief operating officer at Figo Pet Insurance, bought and sold stock in companies that either soared or sputtered during the pandemic, including Pfizer and Moderna, the companies behind the nation’s two leading COVID-19 vaccines.
Other investments include those in videoconferencing company
, shipping companies FedEx and UPS, and Carnival Cruises, United Airlines, and
Overall, the Newmans invested in at least 39 companies since the Illinois Democrat was sworn into office in January, House financial disclosures show.
Pat Mullane, spokesman for the congresswoman’s office, said that the trades were multi-pronged, involving a retirement account, college savings for their children, and helping pay for family healthcare costs.
“Congresswoman Newman’s husband for years now has regularly conducted the family’s savings accounts to invest in a variety of companies based on public information and market research,” Mullane told Insider. “While these trades are conducted solely by her husband and align with the House policy, Congresswoman Newman is fully committed to regularly disclosing these finances to ensure the public has full transparency into all stock transactions made by her family.”
It’s not clear how much money the Newmans made from their investments, as members of Congress, their spouses, and their dependent children are only required to report the value of their stock assets only in broad ranges.
No law prohibits members of Congress or their families from buying or selling individual stocks. The 2012 STOCK Act requires lawmakers to publicly list their personal stock sales and purchases within 30 to 45 days of making them, depending on the kind of trade.
Members of Congress are still barred from making trades based on internal information that isn’t publicly available. Some have faced scrutiny or ethics complaints for their trades.
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For instance, Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, Republican Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina, and former GOP Sen. Kelly Loeffler of Georgia came under fire last year after they (or a spouce) sold off stock in individual companies as the pandemic neared.
Dylan Hedtler-Gaudette, a government affairs manager for the watchdog group Project on Government Oversight, said the main difference between those trades and the Newman trades were that Loeffler and Burr — who is retiring after his term ends in 2022 — were both downplaying the pandemic publicly while privately unloading stocks.
“She’s not speaking out of both sides of her mouth,” Hedtler-Gaudette said of Newman. “From what I have seen she has been taking the pandemic very seriously and talking about the pandemic in a responsible way.”
After reviewing the Newmans’ disclosures, Hedtler-Gaudette said he didn’t believe the trades rose to the level of needing an inquiry from the House Committee on Ethics or the Office of Congressional Ethics, saying the congresswoman complied with reporting requirements. Nevertheless, he added, “there could be some potential cause for alarm there.”
If a person were to have a complaint with a lawmaker’s financial decisions they’d file it with the Office of Congressional Ethics which could conduct an investigation or refer the matter to the Ethics committee, Hedtler-Gaudette explained.
“I would say that these kinds of situations do highlight the need for broader reform around congressional ethics and financial conflicts of interest,” he said. “A blind trust requirement, for example, would mitigate real and perceived instances of such conflicts of interest. So, too, would an outright ban on members of Congress owning individual stocks.”
Marie Newman has only been in Congress a few months and worked as a marketing consultant before coming to Congress.
In November, she narrowly defeated eight-term incumbent Rep. Dan Lipinski, a conservative Democrat. Lipinski was one of the only anti-abortion Democrats left in Congress, and Marie Newman had financial backing from organizations that help elect abortion-rights supporters to Congress, including EMILY’s List.
Read more: Rep. Marie Newman says Majorie Taylor Greene has a ‘loose touch with reality’ after the Georgia congresswoman mocked her transgender daughter
She arrived in Congress amid economic turmoil that has shuttered thousands of businesses and put millions out of work. But some companies have prospered as people hunkered down at home and relied on web and delivery services. The stock market has soared.
Now, with over half of US adults vaccinated, many companies are expected to do better as restrictions lift and normal activities resume, like pent-up demand for travel.
Here are a few of the pandemic-sensitive companies her husband invested in starting in January of this year, the earliest time for which disclosures are available:
The Newmans had investments in Pfizer and Moderna, the celebrated pharmaceutical companies that created effective COVID vaccines in record time and therefore stood to benefit financially from the pandemic. The US first started administering Pfizer vaccines on December 14 and US regulators approved the Moderna shot five days later. Both companies received government funding for their vaccines.
Financial disclosures show Jim Newman sold up to $65,000 in Moderna stock on January 2.
By February, he turned his interest to Pfizer, twice trading as much as $15,000 worth in the company’s stock shares that month.
Jim Newman invested in companies that profited from the “new normal” where many people adapted to working at home and had their necessities delivered.
Companies like FedEx and UPS thrived, and Jim Newman appeared to have taken notice. He traded FedEx stock nine times in all in February and March, with one sale possibly as high as $100,000. He also made five UPS trades in March that were somewhere between $15,000 and $50,000.
Home work and entertainment
In a sign that Jim Newman — and most likely every other remote worker on earth — is sick of staring at screens, he sold up to $30,000 worth of shares in videoconferencing service Zoom Video Communications on March 1 after making four other Zoom trades in both January and February. He also sold $30,000 worth of shares in computing icon IBM Corp. between two sales on March 5 and March 29.
Shutting the door on e-tailer Wayfair Inc. is another bold play. On March 19 Jim Newman sold up to $50,000 worth of shares of the home furnishings portal that’s helped brighten doom scroller’s days by delivering throw rugs that really tie the room together throughout this long national nightmare.
He also invested in pandemic-resilient companies including Netflix, Apple, Snap, Salesforce, Microsoft, and DocuSign. The transactions ranged in size. For instance, Newman sold as much as $250,000 in Netflix stock in January, as much as $50,000 in Apple stock in February, and as much as $50,000 in Salesforce stock in January.
Jim Newman bought and sold Peloton stock four times in February, a month in which the company had a weaker performance than it had most of the pandemic. Overall the at-home fitness company thrived during the last year as people sought ways to keep their exercise levels up while avoiding the gym.
But group workouts and gyms are opening again as more people get vaccinated, leaving questions over whether the home-workout craze will be a permanent part of daily living once COVID cases drop significantly.
Travel and transportation
The Newmans’ investments extended to the travel industry, which is set to pick up in the coming months as people prepare to resume trips they had to cancel during the pandemic.
Jim Newman has traded United Airlines stock three times since January. And on January 29 he dumped as much as $50,000 in Boeing stock, which was also hard hit during the past year as demand for manufacturing and maintenance services dropped.
Jim Newman traded Carnival Corporation shares four times in February even though the massive travel and leisure company kept its ships from sailing that month. The cruise industry was particularly hard hit by the pandemic after several people fell ill from COVID-19, causing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to issue a no-sail order.
Hitting the open road may have been top of mind on March 29. That’s when Jim Newman bought up to $100,000 worth of shares in electric car manufacturer Tesla. He appears to have pumped the brakes a bit, as records show he sold up to $15,000 worth of Tesla stock the same day.
Jim Newman clearly sees animal-centric stocks as gold mines as millions of Americans have been spending more time than ever with their cats, dogs, and other four-legged friends.
He purchased up to $15,000 worth of shares in pet products supplier Chewy Inc. on March 1 via one of his trading accounts. Three weeks later he bought up to $15,000 worth of shares in pet insurance provider Trupanion Inc. through a jointly held fund.
Jim Newman has been at the helm of the pet insurance company, Figo, for more than four years. The congresswoman’s office said that he “for years has been an enthusiast of the pet care industry.”
Hedtler-Gaudette said the pet-related trades “strike me as the thing I’m the least concerned about here,” adding that the investments probably stem from “having some pre-existing expertise in the pet industry because of his role.”