On February 14th, 17 lives were tragically taken in a shooting at a high school in Florida. Several others were injured. The events that unfolded there are absolutely devastating. Our hearts and prayers as a nation are with the students, teachers, staff, and their family members as well as the entire Parkland community during this very difficult time. Students should feel safe in their schools, and our country must continue working to deter gun violence by helping those suffering from mental illness, ensuring that the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) database has all relevant information, and enforcing our nation’s gun laws.
In the wake of this tragic shooting, authorities have sifted through the past of the shooter, Nikolas Cruz, to determine whether there were warning signs that he was capable of such monstrous actions. There were. On Friday, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy and I sent a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray requesting a briefing on why FBI protocols were not followed regarding tips the agency received on Cruz. We are seeking to understand these protocols and know why they were not followed in this case.
Stopping by Page One in Luray
On Tuesday, I had the chance to visit Page One in Luray. Page One runs a thrift shop and food pantry, which serves many families in Page County. They are staffed by a dedicated group and have partnered with several organizations in the community. Recently, Page One purchased a new building so that they could continue growing their good work. This is a great example of a community working together to help meet its own needs. Thanks to Connie and Lois for the tour!
Protecting Athletes from Abuse
With the Olympics underway, I’m sure many of you have marveled at the skill and talent of America’s athletes. It’s truly remarkable! At the same time, many of you have likely followed the disturbing stories of abuse in the USA Gymnastics organization by Dr. Larry Nassar. The sentencing of Dr. Nassar highlights the need for serious reforms to protect young athletes and hold predators accountable.
Recently, the Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act was passed by Congress, and last week it was signed into law by President Trump. This bill mandates that amateur athletics governing bodies immediately report allegations of abuse, including sexual abuse, to law enforcement. It also establishes best practices for preventing abuse and provides governing bodies with guidelines about reporting abuse. These changes respond to the needs of victims and will make amateur athletics safer for future Olympians. I was proud to support this bill and help work to see it signed into law.
The Next Generation of America’s Leaders
Recently, I announced my nomination of several young men and women from the Sixth District to compete for an appointment to the U.S. Air Force Academy, U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, U.S. Military Academy at West Point, or U.S. Naval Academy. America’s military has produced some of our country’s most distinguished leaders. These individuals have expressed an interest in following in their footsteps, and I applaud them for their willingness to protect and defend the United States.
At our nation’s service academies, students have the opportunity to receive a quality education and training to become the next generation of leaders. I am confident that those selected for an appointment will serve the United States with distinction. For a full list of the nominees, please visit Goodlatte.House.Gov.
In Case You Missed It…
• On the road again: Goodlatte Responds to General Assembly Members on I-81
• VIDEO Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue recently testified before the House Agriculture Committee on the “State of the Rural Economy.” I agree with him that reforming the system for agricultural guest workers and ensuring a stable, legal workforce for farmers and producers is one of the most important issues facing American agriculture.
• What is the Securing America’s Future Act? Click here to learn more about my bill that closes many gaping loopholes in our existing immigration enforcement laws, makes important reforms to our legal immigration programs, secures the border, and provides a legislative solution for the current beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
• WATCH: Last week, I joined America’s Newsroom on Fox News to discuss the latest on immigration reform efforts in the House.
• Tax season is here! The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program offers free tax help to those who qualify. Click here to learn more or find a VITA site near you.
Welcome to Washington!
As co-chair of the Congressional Independent Colleges Caucus, I enjoyed welcoming several representatives from independent colleges and universities in the Sixth District to D.C. earlier this month. Pictured here is Dr. NL Bishop, President of Jefferson College of Health Sciences in Roanoke, and his wife, Sylvia. I am fortunate to represent so many excellent schools in the Sixth District.
Congressman Ben Cline’s office to host Service Academy Day in Roanoke
ROANOKE, Virginia – The office of Congressman Ben Cline (VA-06) will host Service Academy Day on Saturday, March 30, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Patrick Henry High School in Roanoke.
Students and their parents will be provided information on the application, nomination, selection, and appointment processes. Representatives will be present to provide information and answer questions about the various service academies:
• The United States Military Academy at West Point, New York;
• The United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland;
• The United States Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, New York; and
• The United States Air Force Academy at Colorado Springs, Colorado.
An academy appointment has an estimated value of over $400,000 and admission is competitive. Each academy selects nominees based on moral character, scholastic achievement, physical fitness, leadership, and college admission test scores. The earlier a student begins preparation, the more competitive that student will be in the process.
More information on Service Academy Day and the nomination process may be found by visiting https://cline.house.gov/services/military-academy-nominations or calling Congressman Cline’s office at (434) 845-8306.
Sixth District Perspectives with Congressman Ben Cline: March 23, 2019
This week has been a District Work Week for Congress and being back with the great people of Virginia’s Sixth Congressional District serves as a constant reminder of how lucky I am to represent them in Congress. It was refreshing to travel the Sixth Congressional District to listen to constituents, meet with business owners, visit with high school classes, gain insight from a higher education facility, and hold two town hall meetings.
With over 20 colleges and universities in Virginia’s Sixth District, it is important that Congress address the issues facing education. As a member of the House Education and Labor Committee, I have been hard at work listening to the concerns of students and administrators about the price of education and how to make college education more affordable. The price of a college education continues to rise, which has made pursuit of a college degree difficult. No one should have to miss out on the opportunity to receive a college education because of cost.
One example of innovation and cost cutting in higher education is the Roanoke Higher Education Center, which I visited Monday. This center offers over 300 different programs offered by 11 organizations, including universities and nonprofits, and has assisted over 10,000 students in completing programs at a more affordable rate than an average 4-year program. Recently graduated high school students are most likely to take advantage of programs like the ones offered at the Roanoke Higher Education Center.
While in Roanoke, I took time to meet with seniors at Faith Christian School. I also visited government students at Central Virginia Community College’s Amherst Campus, Bath County High School, and E.C. Glass High School in Lynchburg this week. Students at all four schools applied what they have learned in government classes to ask insightful questions about the role of government and how to get involved in the political process. I always enjoy these visits and thank each school for the opportunity to meet with students.
In addition to addressing students across the Sixth Congressional District, I also had the opportunity to meet with many residents at town halls in Bath and Warren Counties. Town hall events like those in Bath and Warren Counties give me the opportunity to hear directly from citizens about the issues that families are discussing around the dinner table and at the coffee shop. These listening sessions allow me to understand their views and take them back to Washington.
If you were unable to attend a town hall event, know that my office is always available to assist you. You may contact any of my offices using the following phone numbers:
• Harrisonburg: (540) 432-2391
• Lynchburg: (434) 845-8306
• Roanoke: (540) 857-2672
• Staunton: (540) 885-3861
• Washington: (202) 225-5431
If you would like to meet a member of my staff in your local community, they host recurring casework mobile office hours across the Sixth Congressional District. Casework staff mobile office hours are available to assist with a federal agency or allow you to share concerns. The following casework staff mobile office hours will take place next week.
• Vinton Casework Staff Mobile Office
Tuesday, March 26, 2019 – 8:30am
Vinton Town Hall (Conference Room)
311 South Pollard Street
Vinton, VA 24179
• Montvale Casework Staff Mobile Office
Tuesday, March 26, 2019 – 3:30pm
11575 West Lynchburg-Salem Turnpike
Montvale, VA 24122
Additional casework staff mobile office hours will be announced for the first week of April. A complete list of mobile office hours, town halls, and other events may be found by visiting http://cline.house.gov/about/events and looking under “Upcoming Events.”
My office also nominates high school graduates to our nation’s service academies. It is not an easy path, but nomination and admission to one of our nation’s service academies – the U.S. Naval Academy, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, the U.S. Air Force Academy, and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy – provides a world class education for all who attend.
A Service Academy Day will take place Saturday, March 30, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Patrick Henry High School in Roanoke. If you are a high school sophomore or junior interested in attending one of the nation’s service academies, this information day is for you. Meet with academy representatives and get the information you need to be prepared for admission to some of our nation’s most elite institutions.
Finally, I would like to note the 40 individuals welcomed to our country as citizens this week in Harrisonburg. These men and women come from all walks of life. Some came from communist nations and others from war zones. Despite our varying backgrounds, we are now united as Americans. It was moving to see each take an oath of allegiance to the United States and wave the American flag with pride. I encouraged each new citizen to get involved in their community and the political process.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your reben clineben clinepresentative.
Governor Northam vetoes legislation that would divert state and local law enforcement resources for political purposes
RICHMOND—Governor Northam today, March 19th, vetoed Senate Bill 1156, which would force local law enforcement agencies to use precious resources to perform functions that are the responsibility of federal immigration enforcement agencies. The Governor’s veto statement is below.
Summary of bill: Sanctuary policies prohibited. Provides that no locality shall adopt any ordinance, procedure, or policy intended to restrict the enforcement of federal immigration laws.
March 19, 2019
Pursuant to Article V, Section 6, of the Constitution of Virginia, and after consulting with law enforcement and local stakeholder groups, I veto Senate Bill 1156, which imposes an unnecessary and divisive requirement upon localities regarding the enforcement of federal immigration laws.
This legislation would force local law enforcement agencies to use precious resources to perform functions that are the responsibility of federal immigration enforcement agencies. It also sends a chilling message to communities across Virginia that could have negative impacts on public safety.
Localities have the right to determine whether to expend the resources and voluntarily enter into an agreement with the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency. Police divisions across the Commonwealth have a long tradition of engaging in community policing strategies, and many have determined that it is more important to develop a relationship with immigrant communities in order to keep safe all of those who live within the locality. This legislation would strip localities of that autonomy, and force them to divert money and manpower away from their core public safety functions.
Were it to become law, this bill would send a clear message to people across this Commonwealth that state and local law enforcement officials are to be feared and avoided rather than trusted and engaged. The safety of our communities requires that all people, whether they are documented or not, feel comfortable reporting criminal activity and cooperating with local law enforcement investigations. This bill would make it harder for the men and women who keep us safe to do their jobs.
There are many actions we can take to support law enforcement and keep Virginians safe. Placing new unfunded mandates on state and local public safety agencies in order to make a political point is not one of them.
Accordingly, I veto this bill.
Ralph S. Northam
Sixth District Perspectives with Congressman Ben Cline: March 16th
This week, I was pleased to see legislative language I introduced in the 116th Congress signed into law by the President. President Donald Trump signed a bill into law on Tuesday which would designate the National George C. Marshall Museum and Library at Virginia Military Institute in Lexington.
In Virginia, we remember George C. Marshall as a remarkable leader and public servant as well as a graduate of one of the country’s most storied military schools. His contributions to world history are unparalleled, which is why designation as the National George C. Marshall Museum and Library on the post of VMI will bring a renewed interest in Marshall’s work and life for a new generation.
After the appalling debate this legislative session on a bill in the Virginia House of Delegates which would essentially allow infanticide, I was honored to join my colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives this week to demand a vote on the Born Alive Protection Act. This legislation would extend legal protection to children who survive an abortion attempt. We have asked Nancy Pelosi 17 times to bring this bill to the floor for a vote and to stop giving in to the most extreme members of her party. I will continue demanding this vote and standing for the lives of the innocent.
The House also took up legislation this week calling on the Mueller Report to be made public. In my time as a Delegate and now as a Member of Congress, I have advocated for transparency in government. The Mueller Report should be no different. Over the previous two years, millions of dollars have been spent on this investigation and the American people deserve to know the findings. It is my hope that Attorney General William Barr will release the report for the country to see.
I enjoy seeing constituents when they come to Washington. This week included a visit on National Ag Day with Virginia FFA President Ethan Jackson of Bedford County and State Secretary Kendall Knicely of Rockingham County. Agriculture plays a leading role in the economy of the Sixth Congressional District, the Commonwealth, and the nation. Ethan and Kendall brought that message to legislators and highlighted the importance of supporting our next generation of leaders in American agriculture so the industry continues to thrive. On Friday, students from Rockbridge High School visited the Capitol and got to see history up close. They are a wonderful group of students who asked thoughtful questions on the role of government.
Before a week of legislating, committee hearings, and meetings began on Capitol Hill, I visited Warren County High School to speak with government students. Recent stops at high schools in the Sixth Congressional District have left me encouraged by the students’ interest in and enthusiasm about the political process. I want to thank students and administrators for participating in these great visits.
Virginia’s high schools provide a broad education for students, allowing them to explore not only core subjects such as government, but also creative interests. That is why my office is participating in the Congressional Art Competition. The high school arts competition is an opportunity to recognize and encourage artistic talent in The Sixth Congressional District.
The Congressional Art Competition is now in full swing and is open to all high school students in the district. The winning artwork will be displayed for one year in the U.S. Capitol. The winning artwork is also featured on House.gov’s Congressional Art Competition page. For more information on the Congressional Art Competition and how you can participate, visit cline.house.gov/services/art-competition.
As your Congressman, I am tasked with the responsibility to represent your values in Washington. I have prioritized an open line of communication between myself and the constituents of the Sixth Congressional District of Virginia through town hall meetings. Next week, I will host two town hall meetings in Bath and Warren Counties. As with my previous town hall meetings across the Sixth Congressional District, these town halls will allow me to engage with Bath and Warren County residents and take their views back to Washington.
If you are unable to make one of the town hall meetings, please know that additional town halls will be added to the schedule in the coming months. However, members of my staff hold community mobile office hours throughout the district, as well. A staff member will be available to meet with citizens to assist with problems they might have with a federal agency and hear their views on current issues before Congress. For a complete list of casework staff mobile office hours and to register to attend a town hall meeting, visit cline.house.gov/about/events to find an event near you.
Grottoes Casework Staff Mobile Office
Tuesday, March 19, 2019 – 9:30am
Grottoes Town Hall (Council Chambers)
601 Dogwood Ave
Grottoes, VA 24441
Forest Casework Staff Mobile Office
Tuesday, March 19, 2019 – 10:00am
Forest Public Library
15583 Forest Road
Forest, VA 24551
Waynesboro Casework Staff Mobile Office
Tuesday, March 19, 2019 – 11:30am
Waynesboro Public Library (First Floor Conference Room)
600 South Wayne Ave
Waynesboro, VA 22980
Front Royal Casework Staff Mobile Office
Wednesday, March 20, 2019 – 10:00am
Samuels Public Library (Baxter-Bowling Conference Room)
330 East Criser Road
Front Royal, VA 22630
Lexington Casework Staff Mobile Office
Thursday, March 21, 2019 – 9:00am
Rockbridge County Administration Building (Second Floor)
150 South Main Street
Lexington, VA 24450
Woodstock Casework Staff Mobile Office
Thursday, March 21, 2019 – 9:30am
Woodstock Town Hall (Council Chambers)
135 North Main Street
Woodstock, VA 22664
Buena Vista Casework Staff Mobile Office
Thursday, March 21, 2019 – 11:00am
Buena Vista City Hall (Circuit Courtroom)
2039 Sycamore Avenue
Buena Vista, VA 24416
Strasburg Casework Staff Mobile Office
Thursday, March 21, 2019 – 12:00pm
Strasburg Town Hall (Council Chambers)
174 East King Street
Strasburg, VA 22657
Here’s your Warner Weekly Wrap-up
Our hearts go out to the victims of the tragic terrorist attack in New Zealand today. Sen. Warner expressed his condolences and solidarity for the victims this morning, saying:
My heart breaks for the victims of the terrorist attack in New Zealand. Let’s keep the Muslim community in our prayers and stand against the hateful ideology that is behind these attacks on places of worship.
Here’s your Warner Weekly Wrap-up:
This week, Sen. Warner continued his fight for improvements to conditions in military housing. On Monday, Sen Warner held a housing roundtable with military families in Newport News. On Thursday, Sens. Warner and Kaine traveled to Fort Belvoir in Fairfax County with Secretary of the Army Mark Esper. While on base, the Senators visited military family homes and listened to servicemembers and their families at a roundtable discussion.
For months, Sen. Warner has been sounding the alarm on substandard housing conditions in military housing units run by private contractors — following pervasive allegations of health hazards – including lead poisoning, cockroaches, mice, mold blooms and water leaks.
Last week, Sens. Warner and Kaine introduced the Ensuring Safe Housing for our Military Act, which would create stronger oversight mechanisms, allow the military to withhold payments to contractors until issues are resolved, and prohibit contractors from charging certain fees. It would also require the military to withhold incentive fees to poorly performing contractors.
Provisions of the bill include:
• Basic allowance for housing: The installation commander shall withhold payment of a service member’s housing allowance until a military housing official has inspected an environmental, safety or health hazard, verified that appropriate remediation has taken place, and the service member concurs that the remediation is satisfactory. In the case that the hazard requires the service member to leave the housing unit, the housing company will pay all relocation costs.
• Housing costs: Ensures service members don’t have to pay a deposit, and any fee or penalty related to ending a lease early, except for normal wear and tear. The bill also requires contractors to reimburse service members for damage to their private property caused by a hazard.
• Withholding incentive fees: Requires the Secretary of Defense to withhold incentive fees to any contractor who persistently fails to remedy hazards.
• Common credentials: Creates standard credentials for health, safety and environmental inspectors across services, and including contractors, to ensure consistent inspection practices.
• Additional transparency for service members: Requires the Defense Department to establish an electronic system so that service members can track and oversee their work orders.
Sens. Warner and Kaine have been outspoken advocates for service members and their families, pressing the Defense Department to address the health and safety hazards on military bases across Virginia. In August, Sens. Warner and Kaine asked the Army for a plan to address the dangerous conditions found on its bases, including Fort Belvoir in Virginia. In February, Sen. Warner met with Secretary of the Army Mark Esper, pressing for steps the Department plans to take to resolve serious health hazards in military housing.
In February, the Senators wrote to the Secretaries of the U.S. Navy, Air Force, and Army, urging each branch to make improving military housing conditions a priority and requesting more information on the existing contracts with several private companies that manage thousands of family housing units at military bases across Virginia. In November, Sen. Warner also wrote to then-Secretary of Defense James Mattis addressing what the Senator termed “unacceptable conditions” in the homes, and demanded a briefing from the Defense Department on the situation as well as a plan from the Defense Department to ensure the safety of military families residing in private housing moving forward.
This week, Sen. Warner announced stunning new numbers highlighting the crumbling state of national parks in Virginia. He continued to emphasize the need to pass the Restore Our Parks Act – bipartisan legislation endorsed by the Trump Administration – to address the maintenance backlog at national parks across the country.
These numbers from the National Park Service (NPS) show that despite completing more than $671 million in needed repair work in the 2018 fiscal year, the national backlog of deferred maintenance needs grew by more than $313 million last year, bringing the total cost of overdue maintenance needs at NPS sites across the country to $11.9 billion. In Virginia alone, the backlog grew by $100 million last year, leading to a $1.1 billion shortfall for Commonwealth’s park sites.
One of the major increases came from deferred maintenance to the Blue Ridge Parkway. This week, Sen. Warner met with Parkway superintendent J.D. Lee at Warner’s office in Washington, D.C. In the meeting, Warner and Lee discussed the fact that deferred maintenance on the Blue Ridge Parkway increased by more than $46 million in 2018, bringing the total for the parkway to $508,077,342, including $212,702,891 in Virginia alone. Sen. Warner also reiterated the need to pass the Restore Our Parks Act.
The Restore Our Parks Act has widespread support among legislators and conservation groups. It would reduce the maintenance backlog by establishing the “National Park Service Legacy Restoration Fund” and allocating existing revenues from onshore and offshore energy development. This funding would come from 50 percent of all revenues that are not otherwise allocated and deposited into the General Treasury, not exceeding $1.3 billion each year for the next five years.
Sen. Warner reintroduced the Restore Our Parks Act in February along with Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH), Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Angus King (I-ME). A similar bill was introduced in the House by Reps. Rob Bishop (R-UT) and Derek Kilmer (D-WA), and has the backing of more than 120 cosponsors.
VA National Park Deferred Maintenance as of 2018 is available here. The chart below reflects VA data for FY17 and FY18.
FY17 Deferred Maintenance
FY18 Deferred Maintenance
|Appomattox Court House National Historical Park||$1,998,224||$3,263,249||$1,265,025|
|Assateague Island NS||$2,774,577||$2,545,865||– $228,712|
|Blue Ridge Parkway||$186,619,608||$212,702,891||$26,083,283|
|Booker T Washington National Monument||$1,370,913||$1,418,420||$47,507|
|Cedar Creek and Belle Grove NHP||$327,072||$823,242||$496,170|
|Colonial National Historical Park||$421,872,932||$433,899,266||$12,026,334|
|Cumberland Gap National Historical Park||$1,848,864||$1,805,537||– $43,327|
|Fort Monroe National Monument||$2,280,548||$2,495,127||$214,579|
|Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania Battlefields Mem NMP||$10,371,731||$12,688,403||$2,316,672|
|George Washington Birthplace National Monument||$1,306,614||$1,648,576||$341,962|
|George Washington Memorial Parkway||$233,441,316||$293,494,667||$60,053,351|
|Harpers Ferry National Historical Park||$64,760||$498,101||$433,341|
|Maggie L Walker National Historic Site||$531,648||$702,422||$170,774|
|Manassas National Battlefield Park||$6,516,560||$8,186,965||$1,670,405|
|Petersburg National Battlefield||$11,754,041||$8,924,807||– $2,829,234|
|Prince William Forest Park||$18,619,932||$24,148,020||$5,528,088|
|Richmond National Battlefield Park||$6,581,205||$5,261,371||– $1,319,834|
|Shenandoah National Park||$79,208,621||$88,765,195||$9,556,574|
|Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts||$31,149,289||$34,175,868||$3,026,579|
Some highlights from Sen. Warner’s busy week:
• GALLING: On Monday, Sen. Warner responded to the President’s budget proposal and highlighted the draconian cuts to critical programs like medical research, education, environmental protection, transportation, and health care, as well is its provisions that single out federal workers.
• SCAMMERS: This week, Sen. Warner and Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) introduced the Securities Fraud Enforcement and Investor Compensation Act, bipartisan legislation that would give the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) power to seek restitution for Main Street investors harmed by securities fraud.
• CLEARANCE: Along with Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), Sen. Warner introduced bipartisan legislation to protect the integrity of the security clearance process and ensure that it cannot be abused for political purposes.
• IT’S POLITICAL: Sen. Warner took Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Kathy Kraninger to task for her efforts to gut consumer protection rules concerning payday loans.
• FOOD DESERTS: This week, Sen. Warner reintroduced bipartisan legislation to increase access to grocery stores in areas designated as “food deserts.”
• INTERNET OF THINGS: Sen. Warner reintroduced the Internet of Things (IoT) Cybersecurity Improvement Act of 2019, which would require that devices purchased by the U.S. government meet certain minimum security requirements.
The Senate adjourned yesterday for its March recess and will return on Monday, March 25th.
Warner & Kennedy introduce bill to help investors harmed by fraud
WASHINGTON – On March 14th, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and John Kennedy (R-LA), members of the Senate Banking Committee, introduced the Securities Fraud Enforcement and Investor Compensation Act, bipartisan legislation that would give the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) power to seek restitution for Main Street investors harmed by securities fraud.
The bill would give the SEC a broader range of tools to seek compensation for investors who’ve lost money to Ponzi schemes and other investment scams. It also extends the window of time for which the SEC can pursue a claim on an investor’s behalf from five years to ten.
“As Bernie Madoff demonstrated, financial fraudsters can sometimes go on for years, even decades, before they finally get caught. They shouldn’t be able to rip off investors just because some arbitrary five-year window has expired,” said Sen. Warner. “This bill will give the Securities and Exchange Commission more time and additional tools to seek restitution for everyday Americans who fall victim to investment scams.”
“Investors who are scammed by con artists like Bernie Madoff and Allen Stanford lose their life savings. All too often, the victims of financial fraud aren’t wealthy people,” Sen. Kennedy said. “They’re middle class Americans who lose every penny they set aside for their retirements. Because of a narrow window of time for recouping stolen investment dollars, fraudsters are actually incentivized to keep the shell game going for decades. This bill addresses that problem.”
On June 5, 2017, the Supreme Court in Kokesh v. Securities Exchange Commission ruled that the SEC only has five years to bring disgorgement claims against bad actors to try to compensate harmed Main Street investors. Although the SEC strives to bring cases as soon as possible, sometimes well-concealed frauds are not discovered for many years. (As an example, Bernie Madoff was able to defraud investors for decades before his investment fund was revealed as Ponzi scheme in 2009.) Under the Kokesh precedent, clever fraudsters can manage to retain any ill-gotten gains from outside the five-year window.
The implications of the Kokesh ruling limiting the SEC’s enforcement window to five years have been significant. The SEC’s 2018 enforcement report noted that “the court’s ruling in Kokesh may cause the Commission to forgo up to approximately $900 million in disgorgement, of which a substantial amount likely could have been returned to retail investors.” The Securities Fraud Enforcement and Investor Compensation Act addresses this problem by expanding the range of tools available to the SEC to pursue compensation for scammed investors, subject to a 10-year statute of limitations.
Today, the SEC typically compensates harmed investors by bringing disgorgement claims, which allow the SEC to recoup any ill-gotten profits from the perpetrator and turn them over to the investor. Sometimes, the profits are small, and the compensation can represent just a small fraction of the overall loss to the investor as a result of the fraud. Under the terms of the bill, the SEC would retain the power to bring disgorgement claims for up to five years, but would also gain the authority to file claims of restitution, which would increase the amount of compensation available to make whole harmed investors. Rather than limiting the compensation to just the profit margin of the perpetrator, as with a disgorgement claim, restitution would allow the SEC to recover from fraudsters and refund investors the full amount of their losses, up to ten years after the fact.
Bill text is available here.