President-elect Donald Trump’s transition is formally asking CNN to retract an article about Rep. Tom Price, Trump’s nominee for Health and Human Services secretary.
In the story, CNN Senior Political Reporter Manu Raju reports that last year Price purchased shares in a medical device manufacturer days before introducing legislation that would delay regulations that would have directly benefited the company. After being published on Monday, the story quickly became another piece of ammunition for Democrats who have questioned Price’s financial transactions while in office, with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer calling for an ethics investigation into Price.
After Price introduced the legislation, the political action committee of Zimmer Biomet, one of the companies most affected by the bill related to payments for joint replacement procedures, donated to the congressman’s reelection campaign, according to the report.
In a statement, the Presidential Transition Team said the story “omitted facts and drew conclusions in an effort to attack” Price, before laying out a series of what it says are facts that “were available to CNN.”
Price has a “diversified portfolio with Morgan Stanley in a broker-directed account” in both health care and non-health care related stock and that the broker, not Price “had the discretion to decide which securities to buy and sell in his account,” the statement says.
On March 17, the Trump team said, Price’s financial advisor rebalanced the portfolio “to ensure proper diversification” and in the course of the rebalancing purchased 26 shares of Zimmer Biomet’s stock worth $2,697.14. Price, the Presidential Transition Team says, learned of the purchase on April 4, 2016 when his financial advisor sent him a list of trades to be disclosed on his House Periodic Transaction Report (PTR), which he filed on April 15, 2016.
The statement also says Price “began work on his legislative effort to delay the comprehensive joint replacement demonstration project in 2015 in order to preserve treatment options for patients. He sent a Dear Colleague letter regarding this effort on September 21, 2015.”
“The Presidential Transition Team requests that CNN retract this blatantly false story,” the statement concludes.
According to CNN’s report, Zimmer Biomet donated to Price’s reelection committee two days after the “Dear Colleague” letter and three months after he introduced the bill. CNN also said in the report that a Price aide only acknowledged that the Zimmer Biomet stock was in a broker-directed account after the story published.
“CNN asked Price’s office before the story published if there was a broker involved in the transaction, and a representative for the congressman declined to say,” the story says.
CNN points out that Price still owns that stock, though he has vowed to divest from Zimmer Biomet and 42 other companies within 90 days of Senate confirmation.
“Over the past year-and-a-half, Price raised objections to the [Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services] regulation that proposed major changes to how providers and manufacturers are paid and reimbursed for hip and knee implants through Medicare,” CNN’s report states.
A CNN spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.