Watchdog group names Rep. Cartwright among ‘worst ethics violators’ of 2019

January 3, 2020

Greg Grisolano

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A former personal injury lawyer-turned-congressman who is cosponsoring a bill that would raise the minimum insurance requirements for commercial trucks to nearly $5 million has made a watchdog group’s annual list of the worst ethics violators of 2019.

The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust named U.S. Rep. Matthew Cartwright, D-Pa., to its list of ethics violators, citing his sponsorship of legislation with a conflict of interest.

In July, Cartwright and his Congressional colleague, Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, D-Ill., introduced the INSURANCE Act, or HR3781, which would increase the federal minimum insurance requirement for motor carriers from $750,000 to nearly $5 million. The bill would also require the U.S. Secretary of Transportation to adjust the mandated amount every five years to take into account inflation costs related to medical care.

“In September, FACT filed a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics against U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright for violating House conflict of interest rules. The complaint maintains that Cartwright improperly sponsored legislation that would require commercial truck drivers to purchase insurance liability coverage at a 600% hike from the current amount,” the organization stated in a news release announcing its list. “Notably, Cartwright was previously an attorney with a Pennsylvania law firm that specializes in personal injury cases involving commercial trucks and advertises itself as ‘the nation’s leading truck accident team.’”

Cartwright’s sponsorship of the INSURANCE Act prompted FACT to request the Office of Congressional Ethics to launch an investigation. The group also filed a second complaint against Cartwright, alleging he failed to disclose his wife’s income from Munley Law P.C., her family law firm which specializes in commercial truck crashes.

FACT’s release also notes that Cartwright’s wife, Marion Munley, remains a partner in Munley Law, and both she and her husband have “profit-sharing agreements with Munley Law, together valued between $2 million and $10 million.”

“The many facts in this case show Cartwright could not have acted impartially when sponsoring legislation and impugns the integrity of government action,” the release states.

 

Rep. Matt Cartwright
Rep. Matt Cartwright

The INSURANCE Act is not Cartwright’s first attempt to sponsor legislation that would increase minimum truck insurance requirements. In 2013, just months after taking office, he introduced a bill to raise the minimum liability insurance requirements to $4.2 million. The October 2013 issue of Land Line Magazine includes an article from Managing Editor Jami Jones that pulls the curtain back on Cartwright’s background.

Also included on FACT’s list of worst ethics violators was a Maine nonprofit group; Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich.; and a nonprofit founded by failed U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore.

FACT is a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting accountability, ethics, and transparency in government and civic arenas.

Read the group’s full news release here.

Greg Grisolano

Greg Grisolano joined Land Line in 2013. He was formerly a reporter for the Joplin Globe. He brings business writing and photography skills to Land Line, and has a passion for finding and telling stories about the people who make up the trucking industry.