Stone-Manning may have violated ethics rules, federal law with scrutinized 2008 personal loan


President Biden’s nominee to lead the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) appears to have violated Senate ethics rules and federal law during her tenure as a congressional staffer.

Tracy Stone-Manning has received scrutiny for her ties to an Earth First! ecoterrorist tree-spiking plot, but she also took a $100,000 business loan from a friend while she was employed by Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont.

According to her written answers to committee questions following her hearing last month, Stone-Manning received the loan for her business DB Sound LLC, which her husband “managed,” from Stuart Goldberg, a wealthy Montana developer and donor to Tester, in 2008 to help her struggling business after the market crash.

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The loan was accepted at a “6%” interest rate – well below the market interest rate of around 11% at the time, according to Federal Reserve Economic Data – with a “12-year” term.

After her business closed and her family downsized in 2009, Stone-Manning converted the remaining $60,000 of the business loan from Goldberg into a personal loan, having it “paid in full in 2020.”

However, Stone-Manning also admitted in her answers that she did not consult with the Senate Ethics Committee about the loan – a Senate ethics rules and federal law requirement.

According to the Senate ethics rules and federal statute, Senate staffers can receive gifts from friends up to a value of $250. Anything exceeding the amount must be disclosed with the Senate Ethics Committee and receive a written exemption from the rule for the staffer to accept the gift.

Stone-Manning wrote in her responses that she did not consult with the Senate Ethics Committee about the loan nor did she disclose the loan to the committee in the first place, saying she “did not consider the loan to the business to be a gift.”

Both the Senate rules and federal law consider a loan to be a “gift” with an exception for commercially available loans.

Federal law states that loans get an exception when they are ones “made in a commercially reasonable manner (including requirements that the loan be repaid and that a reasonable rate of interest be paid).”

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The Senate rules exception says loans are exempt if they are “from banks and other financial institutions on terms generally available to the public.” 

This means Stone-Manning appears to have been in violation of both federal law and Senate ethics rules from 2008 until she left Tester’s staff in 2012.

In addition to the $100,000 loan, as DB Sound was closing and engaged in a “moving sale,” according to newspaper ads and records obtained by Fox News, Goldberg purchased “thousands of dollars” of equipment from DB Sound at wholesale prices after the loan.

Goldberg’s purchases could also have constituted a “gift” needing committee disclosure, as well, as the purchases could have given Stone-Manning a monetary value over $250.

Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., who called out Stone-Manning for the loan during her nomination hearing, torched the BLM nominee over the payment and her connections to Earth First!.

“Tracy Stone-Manning lied to the committee about her involvement with ecoterrorists. She also appears to have violated Senate ethics rules and possibly broke federal law by accepting a questionable $100,000 loan,” Marshall told Fox News in a Tuesday email.

“President Biden should immediately withdraw her nomination and put forth a nominee without a history of financial conflicts and ecoterrorism allegations,” he added.

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Stone-Manning has yet to produce written documentation of the loan, its terms, her payment schedule and other relevant documents.

The White House did not respond to Fox News’ request for comment on the loan and whether the ethical issues surrounding the loan could impact her transparency as BLM director.

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