A Pennsylvania congressman who tried to dramatically increase insurance requirements for commercial vehicle drivers was forced to amend two years worth of financial statements because of a watchdog group’s call for an investigation into his wife’s connection to a commercial truck accident law firm.
Last month, non-partisan ethics watchdog group Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT) called for the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) to open an investigation into Rep. Matt Cartwright for his support of a controversial bill to increase truck insurance requirements.
This summer, Cartwright introduced H.R.3781 — a bill that would increase the federally required minimum insurance liability coverage for commercial vehicle drivers from the current $750,000 to $4.9 million, a 600% increase. The bill was introduced at the same time as a separate bill requiring that all new semi trucks be outfitted with automatic braking technology.
Following the introduction of the bill, FACT accused Cartwright of violating House conflict of interest rules by sponsoring legislation that would benefit him or his spouse financially and by failing to disclose his wife’s income for two years as required by law.
Cartwright’s wife Marion Munley is a partner at Munley Law P.C., where she specializes in commercial truck accident cases.
According to FACT, Munley won a $26 million settlement in a 2018 commercial vehicle crash case.
Congressman Cartwright’s wife not only stands to benefit from the legislation he is sponsoring but the trial attorney trade group which she chaired is advocating for the legislation. Congressman Cartwright’s failure to disclose his wife’s income for two consecutive years and his sponsorship of legislation that would benefit his wife merit an immediate investigation followed by the imposition of any required sanctions.
“The clear conflict of interest in this case is made worse by the Congressman’s apparent lack of transparency the law requires,” said Kendra Arnold, Executive Director for FACT. “The failure to disclose a financial interest, in this case his wife’s income, that is directly related to the legislation he sponsored is highly suspect and needs to be immediately investigated.”
In the wake of FACT’s accusations, Cartwright amended financial statements from 2017 and 2018 to include income from his wife’s law firm.
H.R.3781 has failed to advance since it was introduced in the House in July 2019.