Supporters of a law that would make members of Congress put their assets in blind trusts and forbid them from trading individual stocks say the measure would help restore public confidence in lawmakers — but some Democrats also see an added bonus: revenge on Joe Manchin.
The senator from West Virginia has enraged fellow Democrats by killing President Joe Biden’s nearly $2 trillion Build Back Better Act, which would have funded a sharp increase in social spending and allocated hundreds of billions of dollars to fight climate change, among other measures.
Some Democrats have grumbled that the moderate Senator’s opposition to Build Back Better can be explained by his stake in Enersystems, the Fairmont, West Virginia-based coal company that Manchin founded in 1988 and is now run by his son.
While Manchin claims he has no say in Enersystems’ operations, he took in $492,000 in income from the family company in 2020 alone and owns a stake in it worth between $1 million and $5 million, Senate disclosures show.
Under legislation being pushed by Senate Democrats — including Sens. Jon Ossoff of Georgia and Mark Kelly of Arizona — senators, including Manchin, would be forced to put their assets in blind trusts and would be banned from trading individual stocks.
That would mean Manchin would have to either sell off his stake in Enersystems or give up control of the stake to a trustee, who would then be required to manage the stake — and could potentially sell it — without any input from the senator.
“Some Dems want to use it to get revenge on Manchin,” a senate floor source told The Post of Ossoff and Kelly’s bill, which also has the support of Sens. Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Brain Schatz (D-HI), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and Patty Murray (D-WA).
Republicans, including Sens. Josh Hawley of Missouri and Marco Rubio of Florida, have also voiced support for similar measures.
Manchin already uses a blind trust for some of his assets — a measure he’s used to deflect questions about conflicts of interest.
In September, a Bloomberg reporter questioned Manchin about whether his stake in Enersystems could influence his votes.
“I’ve been in a blind trust for 20 years, I have no idea what they’re doing,” Manchin said. “You got a problem?” Manchin added. “You’d do best to change the subject.”
Financial disclosures show that in 2020 Manchin’s blind trust was worth between $500,000 and $1 million and that it brought in between $5,000 and $15,000 in income.
Since the value of his reported Enersystems income and stake is far higher, it’s likely impossible for the blind trust to contain his entire stake in the company.
Manchin’s office did not respond to multiple requests from The Post for comment.