Supporters of a law that would make members of Congress place their assets in blind trusts and prevent them from trading individual stocks say the measure will help restore public confidence in lawmakers — but some Democrats also see an added bonus: revenge on Joe Manchin.
The West Virginia senator infuriated his fellow Democrats by killing President Joe Biden for the $2 trillion Rebuild Better Act, which would have funded a sharp increase in social spending and earmarked hundreds of billions of dollars to combat climate change, among other measures.
Some Democrats have grumbled that the senator’s moderate opposition to rebuilding better can be explained by his stake in Enersystems, the Vermont, West Virginia 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 earned $492,000 in income from the family business in 2020 alone and owns a stake in it ranging from $1 million to $5 million, according to Senate disclosures.
Under the legislation being pushed by Senate Democrats — including Senators John Osoff of Georgia and Mark Kelly of Arizona — senators, including Manchin, would be forced to place their assets in blind trusts and would be banned from trading individual stocks.
This means Manchin will either have to sell his stake in Enersystems or give up control of the stake to a trustee, who will then be asked to manage the stake – and can sell it – without any interference from the senator.
“Some Democrats want to use it to get revenge on Manchin,” a Senate source told The Post of Ossoff and Kelly’s bill, which also has the support of Senator Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Brain Schatz (D-HI). and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and Patti Murray (D-WA).
Republicans, including Senators Josh Hawley of Missouri and Marco Rubio of Florida, have also expressed support for similar measures.
Manchin is already using a blind trust for some of his assets — a measure he has used to deflect questions about conflicts of interest.
In September, a Bloomberg Manchin reporter asked if his stake in Enersystems could affect his votes.
“I’ve been in blind faith for 20 years, and I have no idea what they’re doing,” Manchin said. “You have a problem?” mansion added. “You will do your best to change the subject.”
Financial disclosures show that Manchin’s blind trust in 2020 was between $500,000 and $1 million and that it brought in between $5,000 and $15,000 in income.
Since the value of Enersystems’ reported income and stake is much higher, it will likely be impossible for a blind trust to contain its entire stake in the company.
Manchin’s office did not respond to multiple requests from The Post for comment.