Financial Disclosures, Certificate of Divestiture for Mina Hsiang
Mina Hsiang joined the U.S. Digital Service (USDS) in the Office of Management and Budget on January 27, 2021. She filed her new entrant financial disclosure report on March 9, 2021, 11 days after the filing deadline. OMB’s ethics official indicated on the form that advice was provided to Ms. Hsiang regarding the tardy filing of her disclosure. On November 15, 2021, Ms. Hsiang filed another disclosure, a periodic transaction report, disclosing a sale that occurred on September 30, 2021. Once again, she missed the filing deadline, this time by 16 days.
The contents of these disclosures are troubling. The March 2021 new entrant report reveals a multimillion dollar investment portfolio consisting of investments that include tech and medical companies that pose conflicts of interest with her work at USDS, an office with executive branch-wide reach into the government’s digital programs. The periodic transaction report reveals that she sold her investment in an artificial intelligence defense contractor, Rebellion Defense, for 10 to 67 times what she said the investment was worth just six months earlier when she filed her new entrant report. OMB allowed her to retain that asset for eight months, despite the obvious potential for conflicts of interest. And she reaped a windfall when she sold it just four weeks after being promoted from senior advisor to USDS administrator.
In December 2021, the Office of Government Ethics issued a Certificate of Divestiture to Ms. Hsiang. A Certificate of Divestiture allows a federal employee to defer payment of capital gains taxes when the government has forced to the employee to sell an asset to resolve a conflict of interest. In the Certificate of Divestiture, OGE’s general counsel declares that divestiture of several assets is “reasonably necessary” to avoid a conflict of interest. No explanation is offered as to why OMB allowed Ms. Hsiang to hold these conflicting assets for eleven months after joining USDS or how she avoided violating the conflict of interest law during that time.
One of the assets identified in the Certificate of Divestiture, Teladoc Health Inc., was not disclosed in either Ms. Hsiang’s March 2021 new entrant financial disclosure report or her November 2021 periodic transaction report.