By Jim DeFede

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Miami Congresswoman Donna Shalala admits she made a mistake by failing to report at least a half dozen stock sales she made after being elected to the House in 2018.

“It was my mistake and I take full responsibility,” she told CBS Miami, in her first interview since the transactions became public.

After being elected in November 2018, Shalala started selling off many of the individual stocks she owned, including shares in Boeing, Alaska Airlines, Chevron, Conoco, and AMC.

According to a list provided by her office, the last transaction was on August 30, 2019.

She said she sold the stock to avoid any potential conflicts of interest as a member of Congress.

Nevertheless, federal law requires elected officials to report any stock transactions within 45 days. The law is designed to provide greater transparency and discourage House members from using information they are privy to for their own financial benefit.

Shalala’s failure to reveal the transactions were first reported by The Miami Herald.

“Look, I knew what the law was,” Shalala told CBS Miami. “I missed the deadlines. And I have to take responsibility, personal responsibility for doing that. No one else is responsible except for me.”

Shalala said she did report owning the stocks on her 2018 financial disclosure forms, she simply failed to file the interim reports every time she made a stock sale.

“I did file my disclosure report, so everybody knew what my holdings are,” she said. “They didn’t know I was unloading the entire portfolio so I could put everything into mutual [funds] basically to avoid any conflict of interest.”

Here is what Congresswoman Donna Shalala had to say:

She said she is also working on setting up a blind trust for any stocks she is not able to sell.

Failing to report the transactions are a violation of the STOCK Act and could result in a criminal investigation, although most experts think that is highly unlikely in this case. The matter could be referred to the House Ethics Committee to review.

Shalala said when she realized she made a mistake this week, she contacted the Ethics Committee and said she would cooperate in any review the Committee conducts. The Committee could choose to issue a fine or a reprimand.

“Whatever they think is appropriate,” Shalala said, “Whether it’s a financial penalty or anything else. I’m really sorry I missed those deadlines in the process of trying to do the right thing.”

The revelations came to light after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appointed Shalala to a select committee of House and Senate members to provide oversight on the hundreds of billions of dollars being given to companies during the pandemic. The appointment prompted reporters to take a closer look at her financial disclosure forms and it was during an interview on Monday with the Miami Herald that Shalala mentioned she had sold most of her individual stocks in 2019.

After the Herald reported the sales, it became clear the stock transactions had not been properly reported.

Shalala, who served eight years as the Health and Human Services Secretary during the Clinton Administration, said she did not believe her mistake should affect her standing on the committee.

“I don’t think so,” she said. “We’re looking at how the Secretary of the Treasury and the Fed gave out billions of dollars to bail out companies, including the airlines. What are the standards? What are the restrictions? Are they protecting workers in the process?”

Ironically, if Shalala had not sold her stock in Boeing and Alaska Airlines in 2018 and 2019, she could have faced questions about a conflict of interest today.

Jim DeFede

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