NY Times report questions stock trades of Lakeland Rep. Scott Franklin
U.S. Representative Scott Franklin of Lakeland is among 97 members of Congress who have engaged in stock trades that pose potential conflicts of interest, according to a New York Times study, though Franklin denies this.
The newspaper included Franklin’s photo among those of 96 others in a front-page story published Wednesday. The Times conducted “an in-depth analysis of the transactions” from 2019 to 2021, according to the article.
The Times found more than 3,700 transactions reported by lawmakers on both sides that raised potential conflicts “between their public responsibilities and their private finances,” according to the report.
18th Congressional District:U.S. Representative Scott Franklin easily wins GOP primary
15th Congressional District:Alan Cohn wins the Democratic primary
15th Congressional District:Laurel Lee defeats Kelli Stargel, 3 others in Republican prhyme
Franklin, a Republican heavily favored to win a second term, is not mentioned in the lead story, which focuses on officials such as Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Alabama, and Rep. Ro Khanna, D-California.
The package includes short summaries of the stock trades of each of the 97 members of Congress, and Franklin’s is among the briefest. It says Franklin reported transactions at five companies during the three-year period, and the Times deemed two of them to be potential conflicts.
Franklin reported sales at two pharmaceutical companies “as the House Oversight Committee, on which he served, was in the midst of a three-year investigation into drug prices and marketing practices.” The report says Franklin’s office did not respond to The Times’ request for comment.
Franklin’s office sent a statement to The Ledger on Thursday:
“As a Republican member of the Democrat-controlled Oversight and Reform Committee, I have not been involved in any investigation they conduct, and certainly none insider prior to my election to Congress. I am also only aware of the transactions carried out by the manager of my financial portfolio after they have been carried out.
“I am only informed of trades so that I can comply with the reporting requirements of the house’s ethics. I have always followed these rules and will continue to do so. Despite what was reported by the New York Times, my office has no record of anyone from the Times asking for comment. Otherwise, I would gladly have explained the facts to them.
The New York Times report focuses not only on transactions made by members of Congress, but also on transactions involving their family members. For example, Paul Pelosi, the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, bought and sold at least $25 million in stocks, options and other financial assets from 2019 to 2021.
While Pelosi has said she is not involved in her husband’s financial dealings, critics have called for tougher rules governing investments by members of Congress and their families.
Franklin, a former Lakeland City Commissioner, was elected to Congress in 2020 from Home District 15. He is now running for the redesigned District 18, which covers eastern Lakeland and stretches as far south as Collier County. Franklin easily prevailed in the August primary election and will face a non-party candidate and a registered candidate in the November general election.
The Times report did not mention the other two U.S. House members from Polk County — Rep. Darren Soto, D-Kissimmee, and Rep. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota. He also didn’t mention Rep. Daniel Webster, R-Clermont. Webster is running for office in the redesigned District 11, which includes northern Polk County.