To stop insider trading among lawmakers, Congress proposes a stock ban

A fine of several hundred dollars is usually assessed for violations of individual stock trading rules.

To stop insider trading among lawmakers, Congress proposes a stock ban

WASHINGTON -- Chip Roy and Abigail Spanberger aren't always fighting for the same cause.

Spanberger, a moderate Democrat in Virginia, and Roy from Texas, support a bill that would prohibit legislators from trading stocks within public companies. This would prevent them from making money from insider information they have on Capitol Hill.

Both support legislation being proposed by the freshman senators. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) and Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), which would require legislators and their immediate families to place any stocks they have in blind trusts, eliminating any potential conflicts of interest.

"When we're going for briefings on issues that might be percolating around the world, or when we vote on legislation that could potentially change markets, it just seems wrong to me that currently we have the ability to buy or sell stock that may or not be associated with those decisions," Spanberger stated to NBC News in an interview.

Spanberger introduced similar legislation in the House last year, called the Trust in Congress Act."

Nearly a decade ago, Congress attempted to regulate stock trading by its members. The Stock Act was passed to combat insider trading. However, lawmakers continue to buy and sell stock in excess of 100 million every year. This includes during the Covid pandemic.

"We vote on this stuff every day. NBC News interviewed Roy to discuss the situation.

The typical Stock Act offense rarely exceeds a few hundred dollars.

The FBI probedSen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) was charged with stock trades that were made during the Covid pandemic in February 2020. The Department of Justice did not press charges. Burr claimed that he made stock trades on the basis of public information from media reports.

Some legislators may not be so bullish on reform.

 

"Well, it should be closely watched, but it's difficult to imagine in my work what isn't a conflict of interests," stated Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill).

Nancy Pelosi, House Speaker, echoed this skepticism. She said she trusts her members to do right but that it was not possible for them to "give a blanket attitude that we can't accomplish this because we don't have the trust." That is something I don't believe in."

Pelosi stated that she does not own stocks. The new rules would apply to her husband, Paul Pelosi (a venture capitalist).

"When I was campaigning for Georgia, and promising the people that I would push anti-corruption reforms in Georgia, I didn’t care then and that it ruffled some feathers now if that did that," Ossoff stated in an interview. Ossoff was referring to his 2020 Senate bid that hinged in part upon allegations that his opponent had traded thousands in stocks that fell within his purview as a member the Senate subcommittee of cybersecurity.

Roy stated that the American people are tired of playing games on both sides of this aisle and want to see Roy do his job and come up as dedicated public servants, not traders.

This issue is now on the Arizona and Pennsylvania midterm campaigns trails. It covers both parties.

John Fetterman (the lieutenant governor in Pennsylvania, and a Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate race in Pennsylvania), wrote in a tweet that "Lawmakers shouldn’t be making profits from the same companies they supposedly regulate."

"I don’t believe we can trust these folks to police themselves. "We just have to ban them," Blake Masters, a Republican from Arizona, said in December on a cable TV show.

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