Sen. Jon Ossoff fulfills campaign promise by putting financial assets in blind trust

Credit: Ben Gray

Credit: Ben Gray

WASHINGTON — Georgia U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff has moved his liquid assets into a qualified blind trust, making good on a campaign promise that relates to criticism of his predecessor.

Ossoff notified the Senate last week that he had created the qualified blind trust for his holdings, which contributed to a net worth somewhere between $2 million and $7.3 million as of late last year. At the time, his wealth was spread among various stocks, securities and mutual funds.

During the campaign, Ossoff challenged then-U.S. Sen. David Perdue to create a blind trust for his financial assets. Perdue and fellow Georgia Republican U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler both faced widespread criticism for having active portfolios during the coronavirus pandemic, including trading in companies that were affected by the health crisis.

“Last year, at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, heavy stock trading by members of Congress, including buying and selling stocks in companies that stood to lose or gain due to the pandemic, raised serious ethical concerns,” Ossoff’s office said Tuesday. “Sen. Ossoff, who has long been a champion of strengthening congressional ethics rules, pledged that, if elected, he would move his stocks into a blind trust. Today he announced that he has completed that process.”

Critics accused Loeffler and Perdue of capitalizing off information they received in private Senate briefings to guide their decision-making. Both denied any wrongdoing and said all trading on their behalf was made by advisers acting independently. Still, both senators ultimately divested from trading in individual stocks.

Former Georgia U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson helped write the Senate Ethics Committee’s guidelines on qualified blind trusts, which were created to help members avoid conflicts of interest. Lawmakers who use them have no control or knowledge of where their money is invested.

The most recent financial disclosure for U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, who defeated Loeffler in January’s runoff, showed he did not have the same active portfolio as Ossoff or his Senate predecessors. His net worth was also much smaller than the rest, with his liquid assets mostly consisting of relatively small shares in mutual funds.