White House adviser Susan Rice to divest company that builds Midwest pipeline
President Joe Biden’s Home Policy Council director Susan Rice has divested millions of dollars in stakes in a company that runs a controversial pipeline project backed by the Biden administration.
Last month, the Biden administration gave a public boost to the Trump-era pipeline project, calling for the dismissal of a legal challenge brought by environmental groups seeking to protect the Minnesota watershed and tribal lands of the pipeline.
The sale of Enbridge shares is part of a series of significant divestitures Rice, one of the wealthiest White House members Biden, recently made or plans to make in the coming days. Divestiture is a common measure that newly appointed public officials take to ensure that their government functions do not overlap with their personal interests.
A certificate of assignment issued by the Office of Government Ethics last week shows Rice’s plans to sell stakes in more than three dozen companies and several investment funds that she and her family own – assets of a total value of over $ 30 million.
Enbridge’s stock price has been trending upward since November, and Rice’s holdings in the company have risen to around $ 2.4 million when she joined the Biden administration earlier this year. to nearly $ 2.7 million on Friday.
It is not known whether Rice deducted any capital gains from the sale of her Enbridge shares, but those who transfer assets under a certificate of transfer are allowed to defer capital gains taxes.
A White House official told ABC News that during the transition period leading up to Biden’s inauguration, Rice agreed to divest himself of all listed assets. In the meantime, pending the issuance of its divestiture certificate, it recused itself from cases involving companies in which it had investments.
The official said that earlier this week Rice divested all of its Canadian assets, including Enbridge’s holdings and more than $ 14 million in shares of Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd., as well as numerous US assets. .
Its remaining U.S. shares are in the process of being sold, a process that will be completed by July 27, the official said.
Other assets it divests, according to its disclosure reports, are $ 1 million in Johnson & Johnson stock, over $ 823,000 in Apple stock, and nearly $ 289,000 in stock. from Comcast.
It will retain significant stakes in Canadian banks, including $ 5 million to $ 25 million each in the Royal Bank of Canada and the Toronto-Dominion Bank, according to its disclosure reports.
Rice’s certificate of surrender was first reported by the Daily poster.
As ABC News previously reported, several other senior officials in the Biden administration also divested of their assets to comply with ethical rules earlier this year.
Biden’s White House climate envoy John Kerry received an assignment certificate in March for liquidating $ 4 million to $ 15 million in assets from more than 400 companies, including interests in the energy. In May, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm sold $ 1.6 million in shares of electric vehicle producer Proterra.
Kedric Payne, general counsel and senior ethics director of the good government group Campaign Legal Center, said that given the large number of miscellaneous stocks that Rice is divesting himself, it is difficult to say whether the timing of her support The Biden administration at the Line 3 pipeline project and the Rice divestiture raises questions.
But he said Rice’s divestment of those assets shows the highest level of effort to avoid a conflict of interest.
“Ethics laws allow an official to resolve conflicts of interest with recusals, waivers and indiscriminate trusts, but divestiture of assets is usually the most extreme remedy,” Payne said. “When managers are transparent about conflicts and sell their relevant assets to avoid such conflicts, ethics laws work as intended.”
Evan Simon contributed to this report.