OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Virginia Democrat Rep. Abigail Spanberger is joining Texas GOP Rep. Chip Roy to push legislation to ban members of Congress from trading stocks while in office.
“At the heart of the issue: Senators and representatives regularly get classified briefings about subjects that impact the markets and they’re able to use that information, which the rest of the public doesn’t have, to buy, sell, trade, and profit. Spanberger and Republican Rep. Chip Roy, of Texas, a co-sponsor of the bill, both said it’s fundamentally unfair and should be criminalized,” News Nation reported. “The legislation would require members of Congress, their spouses, and their dependent children to put certain investment assets into a qualified blind trust while the member is in office.”
In an explosive statement, the Democrat lawmaker said: “We are long overdue for a vote on legislation to ban Members of Congress and their spouses from trading individual stocks. Last Congress, we saw the TRUST in Congress Act receives the most bipartisan support of any effort to do so. We saw tremendous momentum, we saw growing support in our districts, and we saw growing recognition across the political spectrum that such reform needs to be made now. I’ve been proud to lead the charge on this issue, and I want to thank my colleague Congressman Roy for his continued partnership as we reduce potential conflicts of interest in the halls of the U.S. Capitol. Our TRUST in Congress Act would demonstrate that lawmakers are focused on serving the interests of the American people — not their own stock portfolios.”
California Democrat Rep. Nancy Pelosi, in particular, has come under fire numerous times for her controversial and well-timed stock trades.
Pelosi turned heads again last month with another conveniently timed stock sale. A sale that Pelosi disclosed in late December shows Pelosi sold around 30,000 shares of Google stock roughly three weeks before the Justice Department and eight states announced an anti-trust lawsuit against Alphabet, which is Google’s parent company.
In January, Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley introduced the PELOSI Act, or officially the Preventing Elected Leaders from Owning Securities and Investments Act, that would prohibit members of Congress and their spouses from holding or trading individual stocks.
The bill already has support from many House Democrats.
“As members of Congress, both Senators and Representatives are tasked with providing oversight of the same companies they invest in, yet they continually buy and sell stocks, outperforming the market time and again. While Wall Street and Big Tech work hand-in-hand with elected officials to enrich each other, hard-working Americans pay the price. The solution is clear: we must immediately and permanently ban all members of Congress from trading stocks,” Hawley said.
“Members who violate the requirements will also lose the ability to deduct the losses of those investments on their income taxes. The ethics committees of Congress may levy additional fines and will publicize violations,” as per a press release.
“The PELOSI Act will impose the prohibition on lawmakers during their tenure in office but will exempt holdings in diversified mutual funds, exchange-traded funds, or U.S. Treasury bonds. It will give members of Congress and their spouses six months, upon assuming office, to divest any prohibited holdings or place those holdings in a blind trust for the remainder of their tenure in office,” Benzinga reported.
Nancy Pelosi had originally directed the House Administration Committee to draft legislation back in February, but the release of that draft this fall came at a bit of an awkward time. Just weeks before, she’d faced harsh criticism when her husband, Paul, a venture capitalist, exercised his call options and purchased shares in Nvidia, a manufacturer of graphics cards.
It was right before the Senate was expected to vote on a bipartisan bill that would see domestic chipmakers get a $52 billion subsidy, and the move received significant blowback. That bill ultimately passed in July and, amid the scrutiny, Paul Pelosi sold his holdings in the semiconductor manufacturer at a six-figure loss.
Speaker Kevin McCarthy previously said there will be an investigation into the Pelosis stock trading.
“I would look through it,” he said of the Democrat proposal to ban stock trading for spouses of Congress members. “What I’ve told everybody is we will come back, and we will not only investigate this, we will come back with a proposal to change the current behavior.”
“Her husband can trade all the way through, but now it becomes a crisis?” he said. “I think what her husband did was wrong.”
“I think we need to bring trust back to this institution,” he added. “I think we have to do a thorough investigation and look at what is the proper role for members of Congress and what influence they have, and I don’t think the proper way to do this is Nancy Pelosi writing the bill because we have proven that she can not do that.”