Mark Meadows' money woes: He liquidated as much as $200,000 in stock after election

Meadows came to Congress as one of the wealthiest new members, and his current financial distress is mysterious

Published January 28, 2021 5:16PM (EST)

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows walks along the South Lawn before President Donald Trump departs from the White House on October 30, 2020 in Washington, DC.  (Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images)
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows walks along the South Lawn before President Donald Trump departs from the White House on October 30, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images)

Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows liquidated as much as $200,000 in stocks a week after the election, according to financial disclosures obtained Wednesday by Salon. As a whole, the filings suggest that Meadows, who was one of the 15 wealthiest new members of Congress when he first came to Washington, continues to see his net worth dwindle as he re-enters private life for the first time in eight years.

Disclosures show that Meadows unloaded anywhere between $80,000 and $200,000 in stock on Nov. 9, ditching shares in two BlackRock iShares funds — Exponential Technologies and US Technology — as well as the tech company Trimble Inc. At the time, President Trump's chief of staff was in isolation, having announced that he had contracted the coronavirus just two days before, likely at the White House election night event that appears to have spread infections among several of the former president's top aides and friends.

On Monday, Politico reported that Meadows' job prospects upon leaving the administration were so thin that he considered taking work with the Trump Organization. A day later, news broke that Meadows — who until last Wednesday was near the pinnacle of power — had accepted a position with a little-known group called the Conservative Partnership Institute, a "networking hub" for conservatives helmed by former South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint.

Meadows, who before joining the White House was elected four times as a Republican congressman from western North Carolina, has come under scrutiny for a number of transactions and reporting violations. For example, the onetime House Freedom Caucus leader has since at least 2018 apparently failed to disclose a loan and $11,000 in monthly income related to his sale of a deed to a fossil park in Dinosaur, Colorado, dedicated to promoting the creationist myth that humans coexisted with prehistoric lizards. Meadows also continued to pay a top staffer for months after he cut him loose for sexual harassment in 2015, a lapse for which he was cited and fined $40,000 by the House Ethics Committee in 2018.

Furthermore, in 2019 Meadows failed to file a House financial disclosure altogether, and still has offered no public accounting for that year, submitting only a termination notice when he departed for the White House last March.

In October, the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a criminal complaint with the Federal Elections Commission, based on Salon's reporting that Meadows appears to have committed a number of campaign finance crimes. The alleged violations include spending thousands of dollars on personal expenses, such as gourmet cupcakes, clubs and lodging at Trump's Washington hotel.

The November stock sell-off came 10 days after CREW filed its complaint. Subsequent FEC filings from Meadows show restrained expenditures and a hike in legitimate disbursements to other political committees.

According to data compiled by OpenSecrets, Meadows, who worked as a real estate salesman and restaurateur before running for federal office, has seen his net worth plummet since joining Congress in 2013, from an estimated $7 million to possibly less than $1 million, according to his most recent 2020 filing. In that time he has engaged in real estate and stock transactions, and even bought a billboard in Jackson County, North Carolina, that pays him between $1,000 and $2,500 in rent per annum, according to filings.

Still, it is not obvious why Meadows' net worth has declined by millions of dollars, as available data suggests. He apparently felt a need to access more financial liquidity last year, taking out a line of credit of up to $50,000.

On the day Meadows formally resigned from Congress, March 30, 2020, his campaign reported spending $2,650 on "printed materials" from Ann Hand jewelry, though an Ann Hand representative told Salon the store does not sell anything that could be characterized as such. The following day, his first in the Trump administration's employ, Meadows sold up to $60,000 in stock. Ten days later, he dumped up to $50,000 more.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article reported that Roger Cawthorn, the father of Rep. Madison Cawthorn, was a financial adviser to Mark Meadows' family. Although Roger Cawthorn works at Edward Jones, the investment firm where the Meadows family holds investment accounts, additional reporting has clarified that he does not serve as their adviser. The story has been updated.

By Roger Sollenberger

Roger Sollenberger was a staff writer at Salon (2020-21). Follow him on Twitter @SollenbergerRC.

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Congress Disclosures Fec Madison Cawthorn Mark Meadows North Carolina Reporting Republicans White House