I9: Congressman Rod Blum failed to disclose internet company

Published: Feb. 21, 2018 at 12:28 PM CST
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Iowa Congressman Rod Blum is facing ethics questions concerning his involvement with an internet company. Blum didn't disclose his stake in the company, and his chief of staff appears in a promotional video for it.

Each member of Congress is required to file a financial disclosure that shows any investments or business involvements that may create a conflict of interest. Blum's disclosure leaves out his role as co-founder of Tin Moon. The company helps businesses manage internet search results that way good stuff about a business shows up more often than bad. And the role of his chief of staff promoting Tin Moon could be another ethics violation.

You can't visit Tin Moon's website without seeing a testimonial from a man named John Ferland who it says is "representing" another company called the Digital Canal Corporation. But The Associate Press reports Ferland never worked for Digital Canal. He is actually chief of Staff for Congressman Rod Blum.

House ethics rules require members of congress identify all business ties to avoid conflicts of interest. But in Blum's 2016 disclosure, he made no mention of his role at Tin Moon. A business filing lists him as one of two board of directors when the company incorporated that same year.

As recently as Tuesday, Tin Moon's website listed Mr. Blum as CEO, complete with his official congressional photo. The company's president is also listed as the president at Digital Canal's website. The one Ferland said had saved so much money thanks to Tin Moon's services.

Blum told AP he wasn't involved in the company's operations.

Members of Congress aren't allowed to use office resources for personal gain which is why it matters if Blum's chief of staff helped promote his business.The Office of Congressional Ethics has not said if it is reviewing Congressman Blum yet. That process can take up to two months to complete.

Congressman Blum's office issued the following statement over the findings:

"This is yet another desperate, Democrat diversion originated from the career politicians in Washington D.C. doing everything they can to make sure Nancy Pelosi is Speaker again. As a career businessman I'll never understand Washington and their practice of the politics of personal destruction. This is a textbook case of making a mountain out of a molehill for political gain. I merely made an administrative oversight and the Democrat attack machine wants to have you believe this is Enron - but it must be campaign season in Iowa again.

The company in question in which I was listed as Director in a business filing, was worth basically nothing in value and not functioning: therefore not listed in my filing as an asset. I have spoken with the Committee on Ethics and the filing has been amended due to this oversight. The amendment names me as a Director and also lists the company as an asset worth $700 as an abundance of caution. While I regret this administrative oversight I will not concede to the narrative that this is some sort of scandal.”