Updated: Shaheen to amend disclosure form to fix error on stock in stimulus-funded firm

(Thursday, June 26)

 
CONCORD – Sen. Jeanne Shaheen faced renewed partisan criticism Thursday after disclosing an error on her official financial disclosure form regarding when her husband’s stock option in a research firm that received federal stimulus funding expired.

 

Shaheen’s campaign said she would amend the report on 2013 personal finances to remove reference to a stock option listed as valued at “None. Or less than $201” in Ultrawave Labs, Inc., a California startup that was reportedly developing new imaging technology to detect breast cancer while Shaheen was advocating on Capitol Hill for federal funding for breast cancer research.

 

The Boston Globe reported Wednesday that the senator’s husband, William Shaheen, received a stock option in the firm valued at between $1,000 and $15,000 in 2009. That same year, the firm received $78,000 from the federal stimulus program  — the $787 billion spending plan which Sen. Shaheen’s supported.

 

According to the Wednesday Globe report, the Shaheens would not answer some questions about their investments in and connections to the firm.  The campaign initially told the Globe William Shaheen has not been an adviser to the company “for several years” and that his stock option had since expired, so he did not profit from the transaction. The campaign would not disclose to the Globe when the stock option expired.

 

Thursday, however, a review of Sen. Shaheen’s latest personal financial disclosure form showed an entry for an Ultrawave stock option, with the note: “Expires: Sept. 1, 2019,” meaning the senator was reporting that her husband still held the option and that it would not expire for another five years.

 

After the state Republican Party noted in a press release that the financial disclosure form information “directly contradicts” the information the Shaheen campaign had provided to the Globe, the Shaheen campaign said that it had been told by Ultrawave that the stock options actually expired on or before Dec. 31, 2013.

 
The campaign said that as a result, Sen. Shaheen would amend her disclosure form to the Senate Ethics Committee to remove the reference to the Ultrawave stock option and the 2019 expiration date. The campaign said the stock option had never been exercised.

 

The discrepancy and promise to amend the form led the NHGOP to again question and criticize Shaheen for what it charged was a “shady stock deal.”

 

“It’s clear that Senator Shaheen provided inaccurate information to the Senate Ethics Committee on her personal financial disclosure form,” said state GOP chair Jennifer Horn.  “This error raises questions about a potential conflict of interest involving the Shaheens and their involvement with a company that received federal stimulus funds.

 

“It’s also troubling that these discrepancies were only revealed after the Shaheens faced media scrutiny about their questionable finances,” Horn said.

 

The Globe report continued to keep personal finances an issue in the Senate race.

 

Republican former Sen. Scott Brown earlier this month resigned as an adviser to an obscure Florida firm from which he had received stock options valued at $1.3 million, but which later plunged in value. He said he also relinquished all stock holdings.

 
Brown made the announcement after being peppered with media questions about his role in and relationship with Global Digital Solutions of West Palm Beach as he officially filed his candidacy for the Senate seat.

 

 

(Our earlier report follows.)

 

 

(Wednesday, June 26)

 

CONCORD – The state Republican Party Wednesday called on Sen. Jeanne Shaheen to answer questions raised in a published report that her husband had a financial interest in a firm that received money from the federal stimulus program.

 

The Boston Globe reported that while Senator Shaheen strongly backed federal funding for breast cancer research, her husband, William, was an adviser to a California startup, Ultrawave Labs, Inc., that was developing new imaging technology to detect breast cancer. William Shaheen received stock options in the firm valued at between $1,000 and $15,000 in 2009, the year the stimulus bill passed. Sen. Shaheen supported the stimulus bill.

 

That same year, Ultrawave received $78,000 in federal stimulus funding, and, according to the Globe, the company paid a Washingon lobbyist to promote its interests n in the U.S. House and Senate.

 

According to the Globe, the Shaheens “declined multiple requests for interviews and would not answer most detailed questions about their investments and connection to the firm. In a statement, the campaign said William Shaheen has not been an adviser to the company ‘for several years.’ The campaign said that they recently learned that Shaheen’s stock options have since expired, so he did not wind up profiting from the transaction. The campaign would not disclose when the stock options expired.”

 

“As a public official, she, as always, abides by the letter and the spirit of the law, in disclosure, in avoiding conflicts of interest and in fulfilling all her responsibilities,” campaign spokesman Harrell Kirstein said in a statement.

 

“Jeanne Shaheen had no role and no involvement in the company,” Robert P. Hart, an Ultrawave attorney, told the Globe in an e-mail. Neither Jeanne nor William Shaheen was “asked to provide or provided any help or support in obtaining any government funding.”

 

But Charlton Copeland, former chair of the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust and a professor at the University of Miami, told the Globe, “It absolutely is a concern. It raises questions because so much of the work of this kind of policymaking takes place outside of the specter of the public eye.”

 

The Globe noted that Shaheen “was in a position to be particularly influential over breast cancer research because of her role on the Armed Services Committee and the appropriations subcommittee that focuses on health services.

 

Shaheen has long been an advocate of federal assistance for battling breast cancer and has tried to maintain a special breast cancer research program in the Defense Department.

 

The Globe also reported that while she supported the $787 billion stimulus, William Shaheen’s law firm, Shaheen and Gordon, set up a “stimulus opportunities team” in 2009 to help clients obtain funds from the stimulus program. While Republicans have said it represented a conflict, the Shaheen campaign told the Globe the stimulus practice was “short-lived, had no clients and that William Shaheen was not involved in it.”

 

“Today’s report raises very serious ethical questions about Senator Shaheen’s finances and a conflict of interest involving her husband’s lobbying firm,” said state GOP chair Jennifer Horn. “Senator Shaheen has long championed the wasteful stimulus boondoggle, and it’s troubling to learn that she financially benefited from a company that received stimulus funding.

 

“Billy and Jeanne Shaheen’s refusal to answer basic questions about their involvement with this company raises even more concerns and shows that they may have something to hide. In order to uphold public confidence in her office, Shaheen needs to openly and transparently answer questions about this issue.”

 

The New Hampshire Democratic Party did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the NHGOP statement.

 

The Globe report continues to keep personal finances an issue in the Senate race.

 

Republican former Sen. Scott Brown resigned earlier this month as an advisor to an obscure Florida firm from which he had received stock options valued at $1.3 million. He said he also relinquished all stock holdings.

 

Brown made the announcement after being peppered with media questions about his role in and relationship with Global Digital Solutions of West Palm Beach as he officially filed his candidacy for the Senate seat.

Author: John DiStaso

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