Push to ban members of Congress from trading individual stocks

Bills have been introduced in the House and Senate that would ban trading for lawmakers: in some versions, extending that ban to spouses and other family members.

SAN DIEGO — Should members of Congress be banned from trading stocks?

A recent investigation by Business Insider found 54 members of Congress failed last year to properly disclose their stock trades.

This has led to a bi-partisan push for legislation to prohibit members of Congress, and in some cases their spouses, from trading individual stocks.

This push for a ban on stock trading by Congressional members received some initial push back from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“This is a free market,” she said. “We are a free-market economy and should be able to participate in that.”

While Speaker Pelosi has since indicated she could be open to a possible ban, other Congressional members from both sides of the aisle made their stance more clear, calling in a letter for House leadership to swiftly ban members of Congress from owning or trading stocks while in office.

Democratic Representative Jared Golden of Maine, who drafted the letter, said it’s clear that abuses are taking place.

“I think it’s clear that the American people have a poor opinion of Congress and many people think members of Congress get involved in office, in public service to enrich themselves and that’s a huge problem,” he said.

The STOCK Act, passed in 2012, theoretically bans members of Congress from insider trading, although experts say that is nearly impossible to regulate given the amount of classified information they routinely have access to.

Bills have also been introduced in the House and Senate that would ban trading for lawmakers: in some versions, extending that ban to spouses and other family members.

CBS 8 reached out to San Diego County’s Congressional delegation for their stance on this issue.

Democratic Representative Mike Levin wrote “the public’s interests – not personal profits – should always come first for elected officials,” adding he is aponsor of those bills, the “Ban Conflicted Trading Act,” and also has never traded stocks while in office.

Democratic Representative Scott Peters made it clear that he and his wife no longer own individual publicly traded stocks “to avoid actual conflicts or the appearance of conflicts of interest,” adding that he “would support preventing the trading of individual stocks by members of Congress. “

“I’ve decided not to own individual stocks or buy or sell them,” said Republican Representative Darrell Issa. “But I respect that many people do come with their own stock from public corporations.”

Issa told CBS 8 that he does not favor a ban on trading stocks for Congressional members, stating that it could be a disincentive to attracting the most qualified candidates for office.

“If you want them to relinquish them, what you may be doing is limiting the kind of people that you get in public office,” he said.

Issa is pushing for greater transparency, though, pointing out that the House recently signed legislation to extend the STOCK Act to judicial members as well. He added that he will work to update the existing decade-old law.

“I don’t think you get rid of corruption completely by having any kind of a ban,” Issa said. “I do think you limit corruption by having transparency.”

CBS 8 reached out to but did not receive a comment on the issue from Democratic Representatives Sara Jacobs or Juan Vargas.

You can track the stock trade activity of any member of Congress through these sites: Capitol Trades and Unusual Whales.

Here is Representative Mike Levin’s full statement:

“The public’s interests – not personal profits – should always come first for elected officials. That’s why I cosponsored the Ban Conflicted Trading Act to stop Members of Congress from trading stocks, and it’s why I have never traded while stocks in office. I’ll continue working with my colleagues to pass that bill and others like it to strengthen transparency and accountability in our politics.” – Rep. Mike Levin

Here is the office of Representative Scott Peters’ full statement:

“Congressman Peters and his wife do not own individual publicly traded stocks. Some time ago, in order to avoid actual conflicts or the appearance of conflicts of interests, they shifted their investments from individual stocks to mutual funds, where the investment decisions are outside of their control. Congressman Peters would support preventing the trading of individual stocks by members of Congress, and in the meantime will continue to follow this practice on his own. He also takes great care to comply with all reporting and disclosure requirements.”

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