China critic Sen. Tommy Tuberville again bought Alibaba stock, options

Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., conducts a news conference in the senate subway to propose a vote on the January 6th commission today and delay the Endless Frontier Act and the Innovation and Competition Act until June, on Friday, May 28, 2021.

Tom Williams | CQ-Roll Call, Inc. | Getty Images

Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama, who has been a staunch critic of China and companies there, since last summer has bought and sold stock and options in Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba after questions were raised about similar transactions, disclosure reports reveal.

Tuberville as recently as December made three separate purchases with his wife, Suzanne Tuberville, of Alibaba shares valued at as much as $300,000 in total, according to a financial disclosure report filed Wednesday.

In July, the Republican’s spokeswoman told CNBC that in mid-2000 he had ordered his financial advisors to sell off a small stake in Alibaba stock after becoming aware it was in his portfolio.

That previous sale of shares then valued at less than $5,000 occurred when the former Auburn University football coach was running for the Senate seat.

Tuberville was revealed in July as having violated a federal financial transparency law, the STOCK Act, by failing to file disclosures of about 130 stock and stock options trades from January 2021 through May 2021 within a 45-day deadline.

Those trades included a Jan. 25, 2021 sale of stock put options for Alibaba Group Holding Limited.

The sale of the put options — which would give their holders the right to sell Alibaba at a share price of $230 by Sept. 19 — was valued at $15,001 to $50,000.

That sale occurred months after the divestment in Alibaba shares that his spokeswoman had described.

His spokeswoman at the time said Tuberville had not even known about the trades because they had been handled by his financial advisors.

Earlier that same month, on July 14, Tuberville and his wife had jointly bought put options in Alibaba valued at between $15,001 and $50,000, while on the same day selling put options in the company at a slightly lower strike price that were valued at the same amount.

Those transactions were only disclosed in a report Tuberville filed in August, after the news reports about his violation of the Stock Act.

On September 13, Tuberville and his wife in four separate trades sold Alibaba options with a $230 strike price, and bought Alibaba put options with the same strike price, another disclosure shows. In all, those transactions were valued at between around $80,000 and $215,000.

On Wednesday, the spokeswoman again pointed to his financial advisors when asked about his joint account’s recent Alibaba stock purchases.

“Senator Tuberville has long had financial advisors who actively manage his portfolio without his day-to-day involvement,” she said in an email.

When asked if Tuberville now plans to tell those advisors to not trade in the shares of Alibaba or other Chinese companies given his criticism of China, the spokeswoman said, “Of course.”

In his financial disclosure filed Wednesday, Tuberville said that he and his wife through their joint account bought Alibaba Group Holding Limited American Depositary shares valued at between $50,001 and $100,000 on Dec. 14.

CNBC Politics

Read more of CNBC’s politics coverage:

The next day, the Tubervilles bought Alibaba shares valued in the same value range, according to the disclosure, which allows lawmakers to report transactions in ranges, instead of in exact amounts.

On Dec. 21, the Tuberville account bought Alibaba shares valued at between $15,001 and $50,000, the disclosure says.

The couple then on Dec. 23 conducted what the senator described on the form as a “partial” sale of Alibaba stock, valued at between $50,001 and $100,00.

The Twitter account belonging to congresstrading.com, which tracks lawmakers’ disclosure filings, notified CNBC of Tuberville’s purchases of Alibaba stock.

Tuberville in June had praised President Joe Biden for issuing an executive order that would allow the United States to prohibit U.S. investments in Chinese companies that the White House said would undermine the security or democratic values of the U.S. and its allies.

In a statement at the time, Tuberville said, “Chinese companies routinely violate U.S. sanction laws and actively enable the Chinese Communist Party’s military expansion and persecution of religious minorities.”

In May, Tuberville introduced the Prohibiting TSP Investment in China Act, which would permanently ban federal Thrift Savings Plans for retirement from being invested in a Chinese company.

In addition to the Alibaba trades, Tuberville and his wife last month also purchased stock of Stratasys Ltd. valued at between $15,001 and $50,000, and did a partial sale of Apple stock valued at between $50,001 and $100,000, according to the disclosure.

The couple also bought stock options for Invesco QQQ Trust, Series 1, as well as for Cleveland Cliffs, and sold options for PayPal and ChannelAdvisor Corp.

Tuberville’s individual account purchased a commodity futures contract valued at between $1,001 and $15,000 for the delivery of cattle in April.