Tue. May 17th, 2022
Trump-endorsed Joe Kent, who’s challenging Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler in a Republican primary, violated federal law by improperly disclosing his personal finances
  • Kent was months late publicly disclosing his personal finances, per federal law.
  • His campaign blamed unspecified “technical issues” for the delay.
  • Congress is considering an overhaul of laws governing the personal finances of lawmakers.

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Joe Kent, a Donald Trump-endorsed congressional candidate, violated a federal law by failing for months to publicly disclose his personal finances, only doing so after Insider asked him questions about his missing records. 

Kent is running against Republican Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, a 6-term lawmaker from southwestern Washington state who voted to impeach Trump in January 2021. His campaign blamed unspecified “technical issues” for the months-long delay.

“There have been some technical issues with getting access to the credentials required to file our report from the House Ethics Committee, and we expect to resolve that issue shortly,” Matt Braynard, a spokesman for Kent, an ex-Green Beret who works at a tech startup, told Insider earlier this year.

By law, congressional candidates may file their personal financial disclosures through the US House’s electronic filing system or on paper via mail or hand delivery to the US Capitol. Kent ultimately filed his personal financial disclosure in February. 

His submitted disclosure listed him earning $105,000 in 2021 from a full-time job, and separately, about $204,000 from a combination of his US Army pension, US Veterans Administration disability payments, and survivor benefits related to the death of his wife, Shannon Kent, a US Navy cryptologist who was killed in a suicide bombing during a mission in Syria.

Kent also disclosed a $40,000 advance payment for a book he’s writing about his late wife. His disclosure noted he will receive another $40,000 upon the book’s publication, which is scheduled for late 2022.

He reported that he did not own any stocks or bonds.

AP_jaime herrera beutler

Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, a Republican from Washington, faces a strong GOP primary challenge from Joe Kent.

Al Drago/Pool via AP)

Kent has been running against Herrera Beutler since early 2021 and his campaign raised nearly $1.4 million during 2021, according to FEC records. His recent fundraising efforts include an event at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, where tickets began at $1,000.

A congressional candidate must file his or her financial disclosure, which details personal investments, debts, employment, and side income, shortly after raising or spending $5,000 in campaign cash, according to House ethics guidelines and federal law.

Kent easily surpassed that threshold by the middle of last year, according to Federal Election Commission records

The standard, US House-issued fine for a late personal financial disclosure filing is $200, payable to the US Treasury. 

But a candidate who “knowingly and willfully falsifies a statement or fails to file a statement” may be subject to investigation by the Department of Justice. 

While such investigations are rare, the maximum civil penalty for such an offense is $66,190 while the maximum criminal penalty is one year in federal prison plus a fine of up to the same amount, according to the federal Ethics in Government Act. 

Herrera Beutler’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

Kent’s tardy filing follows publication of Insider’s “Conflicted Congress” project, which found that 57 members of Congress and at least 182 senior congressional aides have in recent months violated the federal Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act of 2012 with late or missing financial disclosures. 

It also identified dozens of lawmakers whose personal stock trades are discordant with their public responsibilities, such as members who craft anti-tobacco policy but invest in tobacco giants and others who receive plaudits from environmental groups for crafting policy aimed at combating the climate crisis — yet invest in fossil fuel companies.

The Committee on House Administration has scheduled a March 16 hearing on whether to ban members of Congress — and perhaps others, such as spouses of lawmakers — from trading individual stocks.

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