Biden's associate attorney general pick would be wealthiest member of administration

Vanita Gupta has between $42 million and $187 million in assets, per filings.

March 7, 2021, 10:55 AM

With assets worth tens of millions of dollars, associate attorney general nominee Vanita Gupta is thus far the Biden administration's wealthiest political nominee that has publicly released a financial disclosure form.

The disclosure of Gupta's financial interests comes as she faces a potentially rocky confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee in the coming week.

Gupta, a civil rights attorney-turned Justice Department nominee, has reported owning between $42 million and $187 million in assets and properties with her spouse in her disclosure report filed to the Office of Government Ethics. She reported earning between $902,000 and $3 million in the past year, the filing shows.

The biggest chunks of her assets come from her shares in companies linked to her father, Raj Gupta, a corporate chairman and Wall Street financier with vast corporate interests.

According to the filing, Vanita Gupta owns between $11 million and $55 million in shares of Avantor, a chemicals and materials company headquartered in Pennsylvania, for which Raj Gupta is the chairman of the board.

She also reported owning between $500,000 and $1 million in shares of Aptiv, an American-Irish-British auto parts company headquartered in Dublin, Ireland, for which Raj Gupta also serves as chairman.

According to the report, Gupta also owns between $950,000 and $2 million in entities connected to the private equity firm New Mountain Capital, for which her father has served as a senior adviser. Raj Gupta has also served on the board of the Vanguard Group, one of the biggest index fund companies, and Vanita Gupta owns between $11 million and $49 million worth of Vanguard index funds, which are commonly owned by other political appointees.

In this Jan. 7, 2021, file photo, Associate Attorney General nominee Vanita Gupta speaks during an event with President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Del.
Susan Walsh/AP, FILE

She holds much of those assets through family trusts she controls, except for $5 million to $25 million in Avantor, $500,000 to $1 million in Aptiv and six-figures in New Mountain Finance Co., which are under a brokerage account.

In her ethics agreement provided by the Biden transition team, Vanita Gupta wrote that she would retain her financial interests in those companies but would resign from her position as co-trustee of her family trust.

She would also not participate "personally or substantially" in matters related to companies in which she or her family hold a financial interest.

She also wrote that she would not participate in matters related to companies in which her father holds leadership roles, including Avantor and Aptiv.

A spokesperson for Biden's transition team, when questioned about Gupta's financial interests, referred ABC News to her ethics agreement. The Department of Justice, when asked for comment, also referred to the same agreement.

Gupta's plan to recuse herself from matters involving the financial interests of her family and herself is typically required by conflict of interest laws, said Delaney Marsco, senior legal counsel of ethics at Washington-based good government group Campaign Legal Center.

Gary Gensler, Biden's pick to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission, is the second wealthiest Biden appointee to disclose their financial interests to this point. Gensler reported owning between $41 million and $119 million in various assets, comprised mostly of investment funds and brokerage accounts, along with some real estate properties in Baltimore.

In this May 22, 2012, file photo, Futures Trading Commission Chairman Gary Gensler answers questions from senators while testifying before the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee about derivatives reform on Capitol Hill.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, FILE

With the approach of Gupta's confirmation hearing, she's recently been the subject of attacks from some far-right Republicans accusing her of being radically progressive and anti-police.

The Judicial Crisis Network has opposed Gupta's confirmation with an $800,000 ad campaign titled, "Dangerous Appointee," which accuses Gupta of supporting the "defund the police" movement.

Gupta, who says that she has never endorsed such policies, has had multiple police advocacy groups rally around her. Fraternal Order of Police President Patrick Yoes sent a letter to the Judiciary Committee last month expressing support for Gupta's nomination.

"She always worked with us to find common ground even when that seemed impossible," Yoes said. "Although in some instances our disagreements remain, her open and candid approach has created a working relationship that is grounded in mutual respect and understanding."

And a separate GOP-led group has launched a $1 million "Confirm Gupta" campaign, highlighting Gupta's bipartisan support in TV ads running in Maine, Alaska, West Virginia and other states whose senators could be key to her confirmation.

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