Financial advisor backs up Rep. Roe’s claim about stock trades

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JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — The investment firm that manages personal investments for U.S. Rep. Phil Roe says the Johnson City congressman did not order the purchase or sale of stocks during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thursday night, a spokesman for Merrill Lynch verified Roe’s response to a report in The Tennessean analyzing his investments over the past few months.

Previous story: Roe stock trades raise eyebrows after paper’s investigation

The analysis published Tuesday found Roe sold stock before it lost value in the market crash fueled by concerns over the pandemic and purchased stock before it increased in value.

Rep. Phil Roe

On Wednesday, Roe told News Channel 11 he turned over control of all his investments to advisors at Merrill Lynch in Johnson City when he was elected to Congress in 2009, a decision he said was intentionally made to avoid the appearance of impropriety.

Roe called The Tennessean article a politically-motivated “hack job” and confronted the reporter who wrote the article during a conference call with media Thursday morning.

“If the intention of this person who wrote this crappy article was to harm someone, you did,” Roe said. “You succeeded. But you did not tell the truth.”

RELATED: Rep. Phil Roe says scrutiny over his stock trades during pandemic is ‘political hit job’

Thursday night, a spokesman for Merrill Lynch issued a statement to News Channel 11 backing up the congressman’s claim that he offered no advice to his financial advisors regarding the sale or purchase of stocks.

“In these accounts, financial advisors choose several independent, third-party money managers who each accept investments from thousands of people and pool those investments into funds,” said Bill Halldin, Merrill Lynch media relations. “Those fund managers select and trade stocks on behalf of everyone invested in those funds. No client has any input into those independent trading decisions.”

Roe plans to retire from Congress at the end of the year.

RELATED: Roe says reputation ‘destroyed’ by article as he defends stock trades

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