The Business Insider report notes that purchase came weeks after Virgin Galactic President Mike Moses testified in front of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Aviation.
Mast sits on that committee, though appears to have been absent from the portion of the hearing where Moses testified. That hearing was also public.
But Virginia Canter — the chief ethics counsel for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, who is quoted in the Business Insider report — argued the purchase still poses ethical questions given Mast’s role in overseeing the company as part of that subcommittee.
“You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see this conflict of interest,” Canter said.
Moses testified in front of the subcommittee on June 16. On July 19, Mast made two purchases of the company’s stock. Each buy was worth between $15,001 and $50,000.
The purchases also came days after Virgin Galactic’s founder, Richard Branson, flew to the edge of space with a crew during a televised event on July 11.
Mast did eventually report the purchase on Aug. 23, according to the Business Insider report. But that may have violated federal rules. The STOCK Act requires members of Congress to report such trades within 45 days, but that window shrinks to 30 days if the member of Congress is aware of the trade.
Levinthal’s report said he reached out to Mast’s office for comment on whether the testimony influenced his decision but did not hear back. Mast’s office did not offer a reply to a Florida Politics follow-up regarding the stock purchase.
As of Wednesday, Mast had lost money on the purchase, according to Business Insider. The stock price closed at $32.40 per share on July 19, the day of the purchase. After the price slightly rose, it fell to $26.26 per share at the close of trading Wednesday.
While fines for late-filed reports begin at $200, members of Congress are typically given a 30-day grace period to correct any missed filings.