When Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress in April, at least one Democratic senator grilling him had a spouse with more than $100,000 invested in Zuckerberg’s company, according to a new report.
The San Jose Mercury News reported that California Sen. Dianne Feinstein failed to disclose hearing.
The report said that investment banker Richard Blum, Feinstein’s husband, owns Facebook stock in the range of $100,000 to $250,000 worth of Facebook stock. The disclosure was first made public in May, a month after Zuckerberg’s appearance.
Tom Mentzer, Feinstein’s communications director, downplayed the significance of the new report.
“The transaction was made by the senator’s spouse and was marked as such in the filing. It wasn’t made by the senator and she has no ownership or control over it. The senator doesn’t discuss any of her husband’s business or financial decisions with him, so it in no way affected the hearing,” he said.
— Alex Kotch (@alexkotch) July 11, 2018
When Sen. Dianne Feinstein grilled Mark Zuckerberg in April, she hadnt disclosed that she just purchased as much as a quarter million dollars worth of Facebook stock https://t.co/LQCvVSKkv5
— Josefa Velásquez (@J__Velasquez) July 11, 2018
During the hearing, Feinstein told Zuckerberg, “You have a real opportunity this afternoon to lead the industry and demonstrate a meaningful commitment to protecting individual privacy,” according to The Washington Post.
While others at the hearing grilled Facebook on its practices, Feinstein focused on allegations of Russian links to the 2016 presidential election.
“We’ve seen how foreign actors are abusing social media platforms like Facebook to interfere in elections and take millions of Americans’ personal information without their knowledge in order to manipulate public opinion and target individual voters,” she said then.
Feinstein had a private meeting with Zuckerberg prior to his public testimony.
Mentzer said Feinstein should not be criticized because her husband’s stock ownership was not made public before the hearing.
“All of the senator’s assets are in a blind trust, which was put in place when she joined the Senate. The transaction should have been reported earlier in the year, and a report was filed once the mistake was discovered,” he said.
A 2012 law requires that members of Congress disclose stock ownership within 45 days of any transaction in which they gain an interest in a company
Three other Congressional Democrats own pieces of Facebook. Congressmen Kurt Schrader of Oregon and Joseph P. Kennedy III of Massachusetts own stock in a range between $15,000 and $80,000. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island owns Facebook stock within the same range.
As of the time of the hearing, Facebook had donated $11,000 to Feinstein since 2014, according to The Verge.
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