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Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., said his office couldn’t find Dr. Anthony Fauci’s latest financial disclosure report. His staff hadn’t asked for it.
Fauci said his disclosure filing is public knowledge.
The report is publicly available, but not online, and getting a copy can take weeks or months.
Critics of Dr. Anthony Fauci — the government’s top infectious-disease adviser — hint that he profited from the COVID-19 pandemic. Without evidence, they’ve raised questions about whether Fauci made any stock trades based on advance warning he had of the coronavirus threat.
Those suspicions led to this testy exchange between Fauci, and Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., at a Jan. 11 Senate hearing.
Marshall: "Yes or no. Would you be willing to submit to Congress and the public a financial disclosure that includes your past and current investments? After all, your colleague Dr. (Rochelle) Walensky (the CDC director) and every member of Congress submits a financial disclosure that includes their investments."
Fauci: "I don't understand why you're asking me that question. My financial disclosure is public knowledge and has been so for the last 37 years or so."
Marshall: "The big tech giants are doing an incredible job of keeping it from being public. We'll continue to look for it. Where would we find it?"
Fauci: "All you have to do is ask for it. You're so misinformed, it's extraordinary."
The dispute continued.
Marshall: "I cannot find them. Our office cannot find them. Where would they be, if they are public knowledge?"
Fauci: "It is totally accessible to you, if you want it."
A few facts would add necessary context to that exchange.
First, that hearing was the first time the senator had asked for Fauci’s financial disclosure report. When Marshall said his office "cannot not find them," it’s because they had not asked for them.
Marshall spokesman Michawn Rich told us that when Marshall said "the big tech giants" were hiding the financial disclosure report, he was being sarcastic, not asserting it as a fact.
Fauci was technically correct that the report "is totally accessible to you, if you want it," but the process is not as simple or as quick as his words suggest.
The Ethics in Government Act covers the disclosure requirements for over 27,000 political appointees and agency officials. The Office of Government Ethics posts online the disclosure reports for roughly the top 70 Senate-confirmed political appointees. For most of the rest, including Fauci, their disclosures are available through the ethics office at the agency where the person works. Anyone can request a copy, but delays are common.
"This process can take anywhere from days to weeks," said researcher Alex Baumgart at the Center for Responsive Politics, a group focused on government transparency. "While Fauci's forms are available to the public, it's not as easy as just accessing a public web page."
Fauci has been head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984.
His 2019 financial disclosure is online, thanks to reporter Liz Essley Whyte at the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit news organization in Washington. Whyte posted it in August, after she heard suspicions that Fauci had invested in pharmaceutical companies. The document showed that Fauci’s money is mainly in mutual funds, and there were no holdings of individual pharmaceutical company stocks.
Whyte said she waited about two and half months to get the document. "These disclosures can’t really be found, or requested, in a few casual clicks," Whyte said. "But they definitely could have been found by Sen. Marshall’s staff."
She added that if the government wanted to, it could make these reports easier to get.
In his filing, Fauci submitted statements from the companies that manage his retirement accounts and other investments. The 42 pages in his report show, for example, that he had a gain of over $390,000 from one mutual fund. Another fund increased by nearly $70,000. These were unrealized gains, meaning that he hadn’t sold the mutual funds to cash in the gains. Redactions shroud the underlying value of the funds themselves, and how long he has held the securities.
The report was reviewed and approved May 18, 2020, by a federal ethics official.
Fauci was required to file a report for 2020 by the end of May 2021. Whyte said she just requested that filing.
In October 2021, Open the Books, a government transparency organization that has raised questions about Fauci’s holdings, sued the National Institutes of Health for detailed records on Fauci. Its requested document list was long, including confidentiality agreements, and a database of personal royalties paid to current and former NIH employees. Within that more extensive list was the request for Fauci’s standard financial disclosure for 2020. Adam Andrzejewski, the group’s CEO, said it had not received it. NIH will start delivering documents in February.
We filed a request for Fauci’s latest filing and will report when we learn more.
Fauci’s financial disclosures are publicly available, but the wheels can turn slowly. That said, regarding Marshall’s claim that he couldn’t find them, the wheels don’t start turning until you ask.
C-SPAN, Senate Hearing on Federal Response to COVID-19 Variants, Jan. 11, 2022
U.S. Office of Government Ethics, Public availability of reports, accessed Jan. 12, 2022
U.S. Government Printing Office, Ethics in Government Act, accessed Jan. 12, 2022
Anthony Fauci, 2019 financial disclosure report, April 21, 2020
Judicial Watch, Judicial Watch Sues on Behalf of OpenTheBooks.com for Fauci Financial Disclosure Records and Royalties Paid to NIH Employees, Oct. 28, 2021
Forbes, No, Fauci’s Records Aren’t Available Online. Why Won’t NIH Immediately Release Them?, Jan. 12, 2022
Congressional Research Service, Office of Government Ethics: A Primer, April 13, 2017
Email exchange, Alex Baumgart, contributions researcher, Center for Responsive Politics, Jan. 12, 2022
Email exchange, Liz Essley Whyte, reporter, Center for Public Integrity, Jan. 12, 2022
Email exchange, Adam Andrzejewski, CEO and founder, Open the Books, Jan. 12, 2021
Email exchange, Press office, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Jan. 12, 2022
Email exchange, Michawn Rich, communications director, Sen. Roger Marshall, Jan. 12, 2022