WASHINGTON (Gray DC) — Taking advantage of the stock market while serving in public service. It’s allowed for now, but a growing number of lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle say it needs to stop because it makes Congress untrustworthy.
Proponents of a stock trading ban, such as Dylan Hedtler-Gaudette of the Project on Government Oversight, argue that federal lawmakers have access to nonpublic information and lawmakers consistently find themselves on the safe side of major stock market moves.
Hedtler-Gaudette said, “We don’t have hard evidence to say they definitely engaged in insider trading, but at the very least, it looks very bad.”
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (DN.Y.) is one of the co-sponsors of one of several bills circulating around Capitol Hill that would ban members from trading individual stocks.
Gillibrand said, “It’s embarrassing as a congressman that members of our body have created this appearance of impropriety.”
Although there are separate Democratic and Republican proposals in the Senate to create a trade ban, the message from supporters on each side seems similar.
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) said, “Members of Congress shouldn’t day trade while they’re here. They should focus on what the people of Missouri or the people of any state sent them here to do.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) initially opposed a trade ban. She has also drawn attention on social media for her investment portfolio consistently beating market averages. She has since changed her stance, citing growing support from Democratic members.
During a press briefing, Pelosi said, “Members will find out, and then we’ll move forward with what the consensus is.”
But some opposition remains. The office of Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) highlighted the senator’s comments where Tuberville said, “This is a free country; it’s a citizen legislature that should be free to do whatever you want to do. And it seems that because you have two or three bad apples, you want to limit everyone. And that’s not what you’re doing… But if we’re going to do that, we have to look at it very closely.
Public opinion polls over the past six months show most Americans support a stock trading ban for members
Dr. Casey Burgat, a professor at George Washington University, notes that Congress already faces trust issues among Americans
Burgat said, “It seems like members of Congress are acknowledging the public position on this, and it’s just a signal that refraining from trading on their knowledge is something they can do voluntarily to show members of the public that they are not all as corrupt as we might think they are.
Members of the House and Senate are still working to finalize the details of a trade ban. Most proposals would still allow members to invest their money, but not in a way that controls individual stock trades.
Copyright 2022 Gray DC. All rights reserved.