Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut, revealed in early March that his wife’s family invested between $250,000 and $500,000 in Intel stock. He cast a vote for legislation giving billions of dollars in financial subsidies to semiconductor companies just over three weeks later.
The actions of the senator appear to show a conflict of interest, according to congressional watchdogs. Blumenthal’s financial interests are linked with businesses he oversees, they said.
“This is another illustration of why there is so much public support for restricting senators and representatives from buying shares,” said Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch. “‘Disclosing’ conflicts doesn’t remove them.”
Blumenthal disclosed to the Senate Ethics Committee on March 3 that his wife’s family invested in a tech firm valued at between $1 million and $2 million. According to Blumenthal’s disclosure, Google parent company Alphabet, Amazon, Microsoft, and Intel shares worth between $250,000 and $500,000 were bought in January.
Blumenthal’s fund acquired the Intel shares roughly around two months before its CEO Patrick Gelsinger appeared, along with other technology executives on Capitol Hill, in favor of legislation that would provide billions of dollars to support domestic semiconductor manufacturing.
Intel is one of the world’s top semiconductor producers, with manufacturing and R&D facilities in the United States. As a result, Intel will benefit from the America COMPETES Act, which would give $52 billion for microchip production and research.
Several states, such as Indiana and New Jersey, have already offered generous subsidies to chip manufacturers. Intel currently receives more than $2 billion in incentives in the state of Ohio. The Columbus Dispatch noted that Ohio has announced over $2 billion in incentives for Intel to establish two factories in Licking County. Intel is investing billions of dollars into its facilities in Ohio.
Gelsinger said at the hearing that foreign governments have given Intel and other businesses subsidies to produce chips, calling for senators to support “critical technology” that will “break new ground.”
Gelsinger said at the hearing that he wanted, “to go bigger and faster.”
On March 14, the United States House of Representatives voted on the America COMPETES Act. Blumenthal was one of the 68 senators who voted in favor of it.
Mr. Blumenthal is one of Congress’s wealthiest members. Mr. Blumenthal has claimed to not own “individual stocks” despite the fact that watchdog experts say there is no difference between his family or himself possessing the shares since he must disclose them anyhow.