September 6, 2022

Democrat Matt Cartwright Has Potential Conflict of Interest with General Electric, Ethics Watchdog Says

An ethics watchdog group says Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA) is involved in a potential conflict of interest after visiting General Electric’s (GE) Research facility in upstate New York last month and holds up to $15,000 in GE stock, according to financial disclosures.

Cartwright and Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY) went to GE Research in Niskayuna, New York, on August 17, where they toured the facility, the Schenectady-based Daily Gazette’s John Cropley reported.

The reporter noted that the two congressmen left the research facility impressed by the “work being done in areas such as hybrid-electric aircraft propulsion and hydrogen-fueled engines,” bringing Cartwright to say, “There’s going to be a revolution in the way people get around in the air over the next 10 or 15 years and you’re going to see that revolution right here in Schenectady,” referring to the GE Research facility.

Cropley also noted that the visit was Cartwright’s first time at the GE Research facility, though Tonko is “a regular guest,” and the two “helped push through the Inflation Reduction Act” – which did not help reduce inflation but included “hundreds of billions of dollars to fight climate change.”

In fact, Cartwright appeared to be so excited by his visit to the GE Research facility that he later referenced the article on social media with a picture of the two lawmakers at the facility.

Furthermore, the visit came just over a week after President Joe Biden signed the $280 billion Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) Act, meant to boost domestic semiconductor production.

GE, which Reuters reports to be a semiconductor consumer, is part of the Semiconductors in America Coalition (SIAC). The coalition penned a letter to Congressional leadership on July 28, 2021, calling on “Congress to support funding for incentives for semiconductor manufacturing and increased semiconductor research.”

“At GE Research, semiconductor engineers and physicists tackle the most challenging problems involved when developing commercial devices and systems by applying their expertise in semiconductor device physics, device process integration and device testing,” the company’s website states.

Cartwright, who is up for reelection this year and voted for the CHIPS legislation, holds up to $15,000 in GE stock, according to financial disclosures filed on August 15. The Federal Election Commission records show that he has also received $9,000 in campaign contributions from GE political action committees since December 2015 and Open Secrets reports that the company has been one of Tonko’s largest donors over the past 15 years.

Cartwright’s office did not return a request for comment when asked by Breitbart News about the potential conflict of interest around his trip to the upstate New York facility, his stock holdings in the company, and receiving thousands of dollars in campaign contributions.

Kendra Arnold, the executive director of the federal government ethics watchdog, Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), told Breitbart News, “Anytime a Member takes official action that could impact their personal finances, it raises conflict of interest concerns.”

“Given his specific position in Congress and stock holdings, there are legitimate concerns,” Arnold added.

In fact, the watchdog group previously dubbed Cartwright one of the “worst ethics violators of 2019.” In a December 2019 press release, FACT stated that it filed a complaint regarding Cartwright with the Office of Congressional Ethics:

The complaint maintains that Cartwright improperly sponsored legislation that would require commercial truck drivers to purchase insurance liability coverage at a 600% hike from the current amount. Notably, Cartwright was previously an attorney with a Pennsylvania law firm that specializes in personal injury cases involving commercial trucks and advertises itself as ‘the nation’s leading truck accident team.’ Cartwright’s wife, Marion Munley, is currently a partner with that firm, and both Cartwright and his wife have ‘profit-sharing agreements with Munley Law, together valued between $2 million and $10 million.’ The many facts in this case show Cartwright could not have acted impartially when sponsoring legislation and impugns the integrity of government action.

In response to all of this, Cartwright’s Republican General Election opponent, Jim Bognet’s campaign, called the Democrat one of the “most corrupt members of Congress,” adding that “this latest conflict of interest is just another one in a long line of ethical lapses.”

“It’s no secret that Matt Cartwright has a pattern of abusing his power,” Bognet campaign spokesperson Kate Constantini added. “From introducing legislation that hurt trucking companies to put money in his families’ law firm’s pocket, to selling his office by filming commercials for a top donor in his actual Congressional office, Matt Cartwright has always put himself over his constituents.”

Last month, Cartwright was also involved in an ethics scandal when he was seen in a commercial praising his top donor’s law firm after he was filmed talking about his newly passed bill about water contamination at Camp Lejeune.

Members of Congress are forbidden to use official taxpayer-funded resources to promote themselves for commercial or campaign purposes, and Cartwright was seen in the video clip praising the multi-million dollar law firm Parker Waichman and a partner, Jerry Parker, for their representation of U.S. servicemen and family members affected by water contamination at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, Axios explained.

Parker and his wife have donated the maximum legal amount to the congressman’s campaign.

Breitbart News added:

Shortly after the television ad began running, Cartwright’s congressional office sent Parker a cease-and-desist letter on August 9, demanding the firm stop using the clips of him in their advertising and promotional material for the firm.
Axios reported that Parker responded to Cartwright with an apology, calling the firm’s move to make the television commercial an “overreach” and said he is “genuinely sorry for any trouble this has caused” him.
The letter from Parter noted that the firm’s “marketing team posted the video to our website and used an excerpt in a television commercial” and confirmed that the congressman “never authorized” the use of his comments.

However, regardless of what the congressman’s office and donor stated, there are strict ethics rules against lawmakers using taxpayer-funded resources for commercial ventures. In fact, the House Ethics Manual mentions that communications — whether they be private, political, or commercial use — should not be used to indicate an official sponsorship or endorsement.

In fact, the Functional Government Initiative, an “organization dedicated to improving the American public’s awareness about the officials, decisions, and priorities of their government,” said on social media that they intended at the time to file an ethics complaint against the congressman.

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