Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), Donald Trump's nominee for health and human services secretary, invested between $1,000 and $15,000 in medical device manufacturer Zimmer Biomet last March, less than a week before introducing legislation that would greatly benefit the company, CNN reports, citing House records. Less than three months after Price introduced the HIP Act, which would have delayed implementation of a regulation to change how Medicare paid and reimbursed hip and knee implant manufacturers and providers, Zimmer Biomet's PAC sent Price's re-election committee a $1,000 check; the company's PAC had also sent Price's campaign a $1,000 check two days after he fruitlessly wrote the Medicare administrator urging him to delay implementation of the rule, CNN says.
Trump transition spokesman Phil Blando said Price wasn't aware of the transaction, apparently executed by a broker, until weeks after Price had introduced the legislation, and "any effort to connect the introduction of bipartisan legislation by Dr. Price to any campaign contribution is demonstrably false." Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) suggested that Price may have violated the 2012 STOCK Act, a law designed to combat insider trading by members of Congress with special knowledge of coming legislation. "The president-elect claims he wants to drain the swamp, but Congressman Price has spent his career filling it up," Schumer said. Last month, The Wall Street Journal reported that over the past four years, Price has traded about $300,000 in shares in health companies while pursuing legislation that could affect the companies.
Price may have had entirely pure motives in his stock transactions, but "it clearly has the appearance of using your influence as a congressman to your financial benefit," says ethics law expert Larry Noble at watchdog group the Campaign Legal Center. "When you join the government, you are held to a higher standard. And you are supposed to work for the public and not for yourself." Price will likely be asked about the Zimmer Biomet trade and other transactions at his confirmation hearing this week and next.