Members of Congress should not be allowed to trade stocks
WASHINGTON, DC — Congress is expected to pass the Conflict of Interest Act, which would ban lawmakers, their spouses and senior executives from gambling on the stock market, Public Citizen said today. The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote on the bill this week.
“Members of Congress have regular access to confidential insider information about public policies that directly and substantially affect the economy – and stock markets. Yet these same legislators buy and sell stocks at will, often after sittings confidential information about likely peaks and downturns in the economy from information not available to the public,” said Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen.
In one of the most brazen, but not uncommon scandals raising suspicions of insider trading, at the start of the pandemic, U.S. Sen. Richard Burr (RN.C.) walked out of a private briefing with officials from the health department who shared how COVID-19 would impact the economy. Burr then dumped all of his shares in a single day, a week before the stock market crash. Burr not only saved himself a fortune; he also informed his brother-in-law in a 50-second chat, who immediately followed suit.
Congress passed the STOCK Act in 2012, which for the first time made insider trading laws apply to Congress itself. The STOCK Act requires online, real-time disclosure of stock trading by members of Congress and their spouses as a means of law enforcement. But many members continue to play stocks, adding to the litany of insider trading scandals.
“The STOCK Act disclosure system itself should have prevented members of Congress from engaging in insider trading,” said Lisa Gilbert, Executive Vice President of Public Citizen. “In fact, it has resulted in a dramatic reduction in stock trading activity by members of Congress. But it is time to take the next step and completely ban stock trading activity by members of Congress. members of Congress and their spouses.