US Rep. Moore addresses investments, Jan. 6, transgender athletes
WEST HAVEN — When you open up a town hall meeting to questions, you never know what exactly to expect.
U.S. Rep. Blake Moore held a gathering in West Haven, one of his periodic meetings around the 1st District with constituents, and the questions were all over the place. Those present asked him about transgender female athletes, the notion of relocating part of Hill Air Force Base, elected leaders’ handling of their personal investments and more.
Around 80 people attended Wednesday’s gathering at West Haven City Hall and one man asked the GOP lawmaker whether he backed legislation or restrictions on stock trading by legislators and their family members. It was an apparent reference to an investigation by Insider last December that singled out Moore and 11 other U.S. House members for “multiple or severe” violations of the federal STOCK Act, meant to prevent lawmakers from engaging in insider trading.
Moore said the topic seems to be a focus because of looming elections this cycle. The freshman lawmaker, first elected in 2020, is up for reelection later this year.
“You’re hearing more stories because it’s an election year and (House Minority Leader Kevin) McCarthy wants to hit (House Majority Leader Nancy) Pelosi and Pelosi’s going to go back to McCarthy,” Moore said. “I’m sitting there, like, ‘Uh, nobody’s out there insider trading,’ but the perception’s there.”
The report by Insider, an online publication, said Moore didn’t have his financial assets in a blind trust, but the lawmaker said Wednesday that they now were in such a trust, overseen by an independent third party.
Moore had 76 late trade disclosures, according to Insider, putting him, together with 11 other House members, in what the outlet dubbed the “danger” category. But Moore suggested the situation wasn’t as dire as Insider had perhaps portrayed it, noting that serious issues trigger a probe by the House Committee on Ethics, something that apparently hasn’t happened to him.
“I paid a late fee because we reported everything all at once. Some of them were past the 30-day mark. But House ethics was like, ‘Yeah, just report it once, pay your late fee and you’ll be fine,'” Moore said. “If you hear something from House ethics on this, that’s when it’s an issue.”
Having investments in a blind trust puts a limit on investment opportunities “and that’s just part of being in the arena,” Moore said.
In the Insider report, Caroline Tucker, Moore’s communications director, indicated that the issues shouldn’t happen again. “Now that Congressman Moore has fully established a financial compliance process with his firm and the Ethics Committee, he will continue to ensure all future filing deadlines are met in accordance with Ethics rules,” Tucker said.
Asked about his response to the violence at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 last year by supporters of President Donald Trump, he said he’s put a focus on trying to create partnerships with other lawmakers. Last year’s violence has sparked heavy back-and-forth between Democrats who blast the action as an attempt to topple the government and GOPers who describe it as a form of protest.
“It was quite a first year,” Moore said, alluding to the Jan. 6 incident, the COVID-19 pandemic and the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. “What I’m sincerely trying to do is navigate all of that as objectively as I possibly can, with my district in mind, but go be productive on the things that I can control and build good relationships with people.”
He noted legislation he’s pursuing with a Democratic lawmaker from California aimed at safeguarding saline lake ecosystems like the Great Salt Lake. He also noted his selection as ranking member of a House Committee on Natural Resources subcommittee, the sort of position reserved for congressional relationship builders.
“The political environment is flame-throwing and constantly just trying to create a lot of turmoil,” Moore said. “That’s not me. If that’s what you want, I’m probably not your guy.”
One woman, the mother of two girls, lamented moves to let transgender females participate in girls’ sports. Her question and comments generated applause from some others in the audience.
“I think what we’re not realizing is, it’s actually chipping away at women’s rights,” the woman said. “I’m really concerned. When we have our choice taken away because a biological male is identifying as a female and wants to take our spots in the athletic realm, we’re losing our rights.”
Moore, in response, said, “It’s a very easy thing for me to do to support women and support sports.”
He also alluded to a measure Utah lawmakers are mulling on the question of transgender athletes, House Bill 11. The measure would create a special commission that would determine whether transgender student athletes may participate on sports teams reflecting their gender identity.
A man suggested consideration of moving a portion of Hill Air Force Base operations to Wendover Airport in Tooele County. That, he said, could relieve housing pressures around the Davis County military base, help reduce pollution levels and cut down on noise from jets that use the base.
“If we can move a section of Hill Air Borce Base — utilize Wendover Airport, the facility’s already there, it’s already an Air Force base — we can relieve a lot of this pressure were talking about here,” he said.
Moore said the push for such change would likely come from the U.S. Department of Defense. “That’s an area that wouldn’t be directed from our office. That would have to be strategic DOD-level stuff that would come down to us,” Moore said.