End politicians’ insider trading
Members of Congress who acquire detailed information about every aspect of the economy can’t be trusted to police themselves against profiting from it through insider trading.
After the revelation that some members used information about impending regulatory reforms to make financial moves to their own benefit, Congress in 2012 passed the aptly named Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge, or STOCK Act. It required members to report, quickly, when they or members of their families made a stock trade.
Since then, they largely have ignored that law. Business Insider reported recently that at least 54 representatives and senators had failed to disclose significant stock transactions or reported them long after the reporting deadline.
This is a broadly bipartisan abuse. Republican Rep. Diana Harshbarger of Tennessee failed to disclose more than 700 stock transactions worth more than $10 million, Business Insider reported. Democratic Rep. Susie Lee of Nevada failed to disclose more than 200 trades worth $3.3 million. Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky did not disclose for more than 16 months his investment in a company developing COVID-19 treatments. Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly of Arizona was late in disclosing his exercise of a stock option in a company developing a supersonic passenger jet.
In the House, Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger of Virginia and Republican Rep. Chip Roy of Texas have introduced a bill that would require members of Congress, their spouses and dependent children to place their stocks in a blind trust. Kelly, the Arizona senator, and fellow Democratic Sen. John Ossoff of Georgia, have introduced a similar bill in the Senate.
The STOCK Act failed because it relied on voluntary compliance. Blind trusts are necessary to stop members of Congress from profiting from their insider knowledge.