WASHINGTON -- Georgia U.S. Rep. Tom Price, who is expected to be confirmed as secretary of health and human services in the days ahead, amended his ethics agreement with the feds in order to transfer ownership of his business to his wife Betty, a member of the Georgia House of Representatives.
In a letter to an ethics lawyer at the Department of Health and Human Services dated Feb. 7, Price said he has resigned from his position as a managing partner at Chattahoochee Associates, the Atlanta-area surgical group he's been connected to since 1993, and transferred his ownership interest to his wife.
"I will not participate personally and substantially in any particular matter that to my knowledge has a direct and predictable effect on the financial interests of Chattahoochee Associates, unless I first obtain a written waiver," Price wrote in the letter.
Price also doubled down on a previous pledge to divest in his shares of Innate Immunotherapeutics, the Australian biotech firm that's been the subject of Democratic scrutiny in recent months. While Senate Democrats have stopped short of accusing Price of insider trading, they've raised questions in that ilk, called for a formal ethics investigation and implied Price misled a Senate committee about how and when he acquired some of his shares. Former ethics officials have also raised questions about Price's judgement regarding his stock trades.
Republicans have decried what they see as a Democratic "witch hunt" against Price and defended the seven-term congressman. Every GOP senator on a key committee voted to advance Price's Cabinet nomination to the Senate floor last week, circumventing a Democratic boycott.
In his initial ethics agreement with the government -- standard procedure for Cabinet nominees to avoid conflicts of interest should they be confirmed -- Price vowed to sell many of his stocks and step down from his position as an American Medical Association delegate.
Meanwhile, Betty Price continues to eye a run for her husband's 6th District congressional seat. She said recently that she's still a potential candidate for the already crowded race but that it's "premature" to discuss before her husband is confirmed.
The letter, which was first reported by the Associated Press, came in the hours before the Senate kicked off debate on Price's nomination.
The chamber is expected to cast a procedural vote on the nominee at roughly 7 p.m. tonight and then continue with 30 hours of floor debate into the evening on Wednesday and all day Thursday. A final vote is currently expected in the wee hours of Friday morning. He's expected to be confirmed on a party-line vote.