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Members of Congress Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Stop Government Officials from Profiting Off of Insider Information

March 3, 2021
Press Release
Ban Conflicted Trading Act comes amid growing calls for government accountability, would end corrupt trading activities by members of Congress and senior staff

Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley and U.S. Senators Rafael Warnock (D-GA) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) teamed up with Representatives Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL-8), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY-14), Joe Neguse (D-CO-2), Matt Gaetz (R-FL-1), and Michael Cloud (R-TX-27) today to introduce the Ban Conflicted Trading Act—legislation that is supported by the majority of Democratic, Independent, and Republican voters and would prohibit members of Congress and senior congressional staff from abusing their positions for personal financial gain.

Recent polling shows that 67% of Americans support banning Members of Congress from holding individual stocks.

“We need to end the era in which members of congress buy and see individual stocks for personal gain. This practice is deeply corrupt,” said Merkley. “First, it biases the viewpoint of members when working on legislation related to a stock they own. Second, members trade on information they hear that the general public doesn’t. And that’s just wrong. Let’s bring some integrity to Congress and end the trading in individual stocks.”

“There is an unavoidable potential conflict of interest when Members of Congress and their top staffers trade in stocks while making decisions affecting the value of those stocks,” said Krishnamoorthi. “Our legislation will eliminate even the possibility of these conflicts of interest and ensure public servants put their constituents first by banning members and their senior aides from trading individual stocks.”

“Members of Congress serve the American people, not their stock portfolios,” said Brown. “Elected officials have access to nonpublic information that can affect individual companies and entire industries. There must be more accountability and transparency to prevent members from using this information and abusing their positions for personal gain.”

“As Americans are faced with challenging economic circumstances due to the pandemic, it is our duty to ensure that the needs of working families are put first. We must ensure that Members of Congress are working in the interest of the American people, not in the interest of their personal stock portfolios,” said Neguse. “Enacting this common-sense legislation will ensure that elected officials are not using their position in office to make a personal profit, which is why I’m proud to lead the Ban Conflicted Trading Act alongside Congressman Krishnamoorthi and Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez in the House.”

“From the beginning I’ve said that Washington is broken. Congress must be held accountable to the American people,” said Cloud. “As elected representatives, we each have a constitutional obligation to honor the public trust we have been given. Members of Congress should not be permitted to abuse the role in order to make financial gains.”

The Ban Conflicted Trading Act would bar members of Congress and senior congressional staff—who often have advance notice of investigations, hearings, and legislation that can impact stock prices, or can move markets by hinting at policy changes—from buying or selling individual stocks and other investments, and from serving on any corporate boards, while in office.

New members would be allowed to sell individual holdings within six months of being elected, and sitting members of Congress would be allowed to sell individual holdings within six months after enactment of the bill. Alternatively, members of Congress could choose to hold existing investments while in office—with no option for trading until they leave office—or transfer them to a blind trust. Members of Congress would still be allowed to hold widely-held investments, such as diversified mutual funds and exchange-traded funds.

The bill is cosponsored by U.S. Representatives Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA-5), Mark Takano (D-CA-41), Jan Shackowksy (D-IL-9), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Mondaire Jones (D-NY-17), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR-3), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI-13), Mark Pocan (D-WI-2), Jackie Speier (D-CA-14), and Ted Deutsch (D-FL-22) in the House.

Full text of the legislation is available here.