Marc Short, the chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, owns up to $1.64 million worth of individual stocks in companies that have been involved in the Trump administration’s response to coronavirus, presenting a potential conflict of interest in violation of a federal law, NPR reports. Short previously disclosed a portion of his holdings, acknowledging the potential for conflicts of interest when he became chief of staff to Pence last year—but he did not divest his stocks, according to NPR. Short and his wife reportedly have holdings in many medical and pharmaceutical companies—such as Bristol Myers Squibb, Johnson & Johnson, Medtronic, and CVS—that have been involved in the work of the White House coronavirus task force led by Pence.
Short could potentially be in violation of a law that requires executive branch employees to settle any financial holdings with companies if they take part in decisions that could directly impact them. “This is now a red alarm. We have enough information to know that there is a serious possibility of a conflict of interest and a very realistic chance that he may have participated in matters affecting his financial interests,” Walter Shaub, former director of the Office of Government Ethics, told NPR.