Top Democrat's wife may have gained 'illegal private benefit' from his committee activities
Cummings, 68, a Maryland Democrat, is chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. His wife, Maya Rockeymoore, 48, is the chairman of the Maryland Democratic Party and briefly ran in the state's gubernatorial race last year. The couple married in 2008. Cummings was once heavily in debt — in part due to hefty child support payments to his first wife and two other women he had children with — but his financial situation has improved considerably over the past decade.
Rockeymoore runs two entities, a nonprofit group called the Center for Global Policy Solutions and a for-profit consulting firm called Global Policy Solutions, LLC, whose operations appear to have overlapped, according to the IRS complaint filed by watchdog group the National Legal and Policy Center on Monday. The complaint states that the arrangement may have been used to derive "illegal private benefit."
Global Policy Solutions received more than $6.2 million in grants between 2013 and 2016, according to tax records. Several of the nonprofit group’s financial backers — which included Google, J.P Morgan, and Prudential — have business interests before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Cummings has served as Democratic chairman of the committee since January and previously served as ranking member.
The largest contributor to the nonprofit organization was the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a company that is regulated by Cummings’ committee. The foundation, which gave a total of $5.5 million to Rockeymoore’s consulting firm and $5.2 million to her nonprofit group, ceased supporting her groups in 2017.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation was established by Johnson & Johnson founder Robert Wood Johnson but is not officially affiliated with the pharmaceutical company. The foundation owns 13 million shares of Johnson & Johnson stock worth over $1.7 billion, making it one of the company’s largest shareholders. Currently, five board members of the foundation are former senior executives at the pharmaceutical giant, including the foundation’s Chairman of the Board of Trustees Roger Fine, who previously served as corporate vice president and as general counsel of Johnson & Johnson.
In recent months, Cummings has been a vocal opponent of Johnson & Johnson, targeting the company as part of the House Oversight Committee’s probe of drug price inflation.
Under Cummings, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has wide authority to regulate business industries, including pharmaceuticals, banking, mortgage brokers, and technology. In recent years, Prudential, JP Morgan, and Johnson & Johnson have had business interests before the committee.
Tom Anderson, director of the National Legal and Policy Center’s Government Integrity Project, which has been investigating the nonprofit arrangement and provided research to the Washington Examiner, said the potential for corruption is “off the charts.” He said Rockeymoore declined to let his organization view her nonprofit organization’s most recent public financial records as required by the IRS.
“When a powerful chairman of a committee of the House of Representatives has a wife that is bringing in money from entities with interests before his Committee and she is not providing the transparency mandated by the IRS, there's a serious problem,” said Anderson. “The potential for corruption in this situation is simply off the charts and can't be understated. We hope Chairman Cummings works with his wife to end the stonewalling and provide the public with what's legally mandated all charities provide.”
Both Cummings and Rockeymoore refused to discuss the allegations with the Washington Examiner. Cummings did not answer questions about the overlap between companies with interests before his committee and donors to his wife’s foundation. Rockeymoore did not respond to request for comment.
The complaint asked the IRS to investigate the “shared leadership,” “integrated operations,” and “shared address and physical facilities” of her two companies. Rockeymoore’s nonprofit and the LLC have mutual clients, donors and projects, and were located at the same address and share a phone number.
According to its website, the Center for Global Policy Solutions is a nonprofit group that seeks to “create healthier communities, strengthen Social Security, and close racial wealth disparities." The for-profit consulting firm, Global Policy Solutions LLC, describes itself as “a social change strategy firm dedicated to making policy work for people and their environments.” The complaint states that they “appear to operate almost as a single entity, allowing for an illegal private benefit for Maya Rockeymoore Cummings and her husband."
Rockeymoore’s consulting firm was selected for a $1 million federal contract with the General Services Administration in 2017 for work on the “Leadership for Healthy Communities” project to combat childhood obesity, according to federal records. At the same time, Rockeymoore’s nonprofit group “served as the national program office for Leadership for Healthy Communities,” according to its website.
If both groups were involved in managing the project, “the arrangement is ‘self-dealing’ and cannot be ‘arms length’” as required by IRS law and “prompt the question of whether its organizers are getting fat off the grants,” according to the watchdog group’s complaint. Rockeymoore did not respond to multiple requests from the Washington Examiner for her nonprofit group’s most recent public financial records. Peter Flaherty, the chairman of the National Legal and Policy Center, said she hung up the phone on him when he asked her for a copy.
When the Washington Examiner visited the listed business address for Rockeymoore’s consulting firm and nonprofit, a doorman said she had moved out of the office building over a year ago, did not leave a forwarding address, and the building has continued to get her companies’ mail. As committee chairman, Cummings, is embroiled in a legal battle to obtain President Trump’s tax returns.
Cummings recently subpoenaed Trump’s financial records, prompting the president to sue him in an effort to block the subpoena. Cummings struggled with serious financial problems after joining Congress over 20 years ago. His house was placed in foreclosure, at one point; he owed $30,000 in unpaid taxes to the IRS; and he was taken to court multiple times for thousands in unpaid debts. Cummings said his financial difficulties were due to his hefty child support payments.
Since marrying Rockeymoore 11 years ago, Cummings’ financial outlook has improved considerably, according to financial disclosure reports and property records. The couple currently owns two rental properties in Baltimore worth between $250,000 and $500,000 each, and last year, they sold their three-bedroom Victorian row house in northwest Washington, D.C. for $896,000.
Cummings disclosed in his financial reports that his wife earns an unspecified salary from Global Policy Solutions LLC; he did not disclose that she receives a salary from her nonprofit organization, which was $152,000 in 2016, according to the group’s tax records from that year.