NPR: Stock Holdings by Pence’s Chief of Staff Could Conflict with Coronavirus Response

NPR: Stock Holdings by Pence’s Chief of Staff Could Conflict with Coronavirus Response

Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff owns between $506,043 and $1.64 million of stock in companies engaged in the Trump administration’s coronavirus response, NPR reports.

The holdings by Marc Short and his wife could amount to a conflict of interest in violation of federal law, as the medical and pharmaceutical companies they have a stake in include Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble and 3M. Also in their portfolio are CVS, Walmart and Roche — companies that President Trump publicly praised for their efforts.

Short previously disclosed a portion of his holdings when he assumed his current position last year, but did not divest his stocks, according to NPR.

Short could be running afoul of a law requiring employees of the executive branch to resolve conflicts of interest before participating in decisions affecting companies in which they have investments.

“This is now a red alarm. We have enough information to know that there is a serious possibility of a conflict of interest and a very realistic chance that he may have participated in matters affecting his financial interests,” former director of the Office of Government Ethics Walter Shaub told NPR. “We won’t know unless the FBI or the Public Integrity Section for the Justice Department do a proper investigation.”

A Pence spokesperson said Short has “followed all applicable ethics laws, and even sought to divest from potential financial conflicts.”

William Vaillancourt

William Vaillancourt

William Vaillancourt is a writer and editor from New Hampshire whose work has appeared in The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The Progressive, Slate and Areo Magazine, among other places. He holds a BA in Political Science and History from Boston University.