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Are Republicans Handing Embattled Democrats a Win on Congressional Stock Trading Ban?

AMAC Exclusive – By Shane Harris


With a cascade of crises weighing down their poll numbers, a domestic agenda that’s on life support, and rapidly deteriorating prospects for November’s midterm elections, Democrats are desperate for any issue to distract from their woes and help rehabilitate the party’s image. It appears that some embattled Democrats now hope that issue might be a renewed push to restrict or outright ban the ability of Members of Congress and senior Congressional aides to buy and sell individual stocks—an idea many Republicans have endorsed as well. But while a bipartisan push for greater transparency and accountability is undoubtedly a positive development, Republicans may be missing key messaging opportunities on the issue, ceding important ground to Democrats as campaign season kicks into high gear.

Concern about members of Congress, top aides, and their spouses using privileged or confidential information to make financial gains in the stock market is nothing new. Because Congress writes the laws and regulations that govern certain parts of the economy, members unavoidably have access to information that affects the price of stocks before the public sees it, potentially giving them a huge leg up in trading. Some watchdog groups have also pointed out that, while insider trading by members of Congress is difficult to prove, elected members of Congress routinely outperform the market in their personal portfolios, and often make conveniently-timed trades right before major news breaks.

For example, House Democrat Kathy Manning, who sits on the Foreign Affairs Committee, bought up to $30,000 in Lockheed Martin stock on October 22 of last year, just two weeks before news broke that Lockheed won a $10.9 billion contract with the Air Force. (Republicans, of course, have been accused of questionable trades as well.)

In 2012, in an effort to provide a modicum of oversight, Congress passed the STOCK Act with bipartisan support. The law required that members and their spouses disclose when they buy or sell stocks. However, the STOCK Act has relatively weak enforcement mechanisms, and its reporting requirements are frequently ignored by members. Last year, for example, New York Democrat Brian Higgins (who, ironically enough, sponsored the STOCK Act nearly a decade ago) waited 111 days to report $115,000 in transactions, an apparent violation of the law’s 45-day reporting window.

Congressional trading practices first started making major headlines again in 2020, following reports that certain members sold off large parts of their stock portfolios after attending closed-door briefings in early 2020 concerning the spread of COVID-19 throughout the world. Even as many lawmakers publicly urged people not to panic, some began buying up the stock of companies that provide remote-work technologies and telemedicine services.

Since then, public pressure has continued to mount to change the rules and restrictions governing individual stock trades for members of Congress. While the initiative failed to gain much momentum throughout 2021, it has quickly become the issue du jour following the collapse of Biden’s Build Back Better Act and Democrats’ repeated attempts to overhaul and federalize the system of American elections.

Particularly for Democrats in close races desperate to distance themselves from Biden, Pelosi, and Schumer’s radical agenda, the hope is clearly to capitalize on a “good government” issue supported by three in five voters, including 69% of Democrats and 58% of Republicans. House Democrat Abigail Spanberger of Virginia, who faces a tough reelection bid this fall, introduced a bill with Representative Chip Roy, a conservative Republican from Texas, that would prohibit members from trading individual stocks. Soon after Nancy Pelosi (who, through her husband, has one of the highest net worths of any member of Congress) announced that she was opposed to a member trading ban, 27 House members signed a letter to Pelosi urging her to “swiftly bring legislation to prohibit members of Congress from owning or trading stocks.” Among the signers of the letter were Democrats Katie Porter of California, Jared Golden of Maine, Angie Craig of Minnesota, and Matt Cartwright of Pennsylvania – all of whom are facing tough races this year. Pelosi has since begrudgingly withdrawn her opposition, but has yet to commit to bringing legislation to the floor.

Democrats may have good reason to believe that the issue could boost their electoral prospects next November. Last year, Georgia’s Democrat Senators Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock both made the trading activity of their opponents a key issue in their successful bids to unseat Republicans Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue. Ossoff labeled Perdue a “crook” in their second debate for his stock trades, while Warnock accused Loeffler of “dumping stocks” following confidential briefings (neither Perdue nor Loeffler was ever under any ethics investigation for their trading activity). Some commentators have also noted that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s primary defeat in 2012 by Dave Brat may have been due in part to his opposition to more stringent reporting requirements being included in the 2012 STOCK Act.

In short, the populist appeal of a member trading ban could be exactly the issue Democrats in tight races need to cast themselves as independents who aren’t afraid to buck the party’s leadership.

For Republicans, tossing Democrats a lifeline by supporting their legislation on member trading could prove politically costly, even if the cause is a worthy one. Currently, Senator Raphael Warnock’s bill banning member trading of individual stocks appears to be gaining the most steam in the Senate, even though several Republicans, including Josh Hawley of Missouri, have introduced legislation of their own addressing the issue, but with far stronger provisions outlining reporting requirements and repercussions for violating them.

Furthermore, until Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, and Joe Biden commit to real action on member trading legislation, the issue just serves as a convenient messaging tool for endangered Democrats to distract from their historic failures and radical record. As previously mentioned, Pelosi was initially dead set against any sort of changes. Meanwhile, it was Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy who first promised to ban member trading early this year. Quickly recognizing her mistake, Pelosi backtracked; but instead of pressing her on why she flip-flopped and highlighting the leadership differences between the two parties, many Republicans simply scrambled to join Democrats in the push for legislation.

As a result, the media is giving Democrats undeserved credit for appearing to lead on the issue. At a time when the Democratic Party has been completely co-opted by the Radical Left, Republicans should take every opportunity to hammer home the stark differences between themselves and their opponents.

Democrats clearly hope that in appearing to work with Republicans on “ethics” for members of Congress, voters might view them and their agenda as more reasonable than it really is.

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Enuf Said
7 months ago

Please force None-See to return ALL profits she has made from stock trading and see how QUICKLY ole Horseface changes her Biden half mind about this joke of attempted legislature!!

Robin Boyd
7 months ago

I don’t care which politicians from which party benefit from the stock market, they should not! These are people who can change laws and regulations that greatly affect businesses. They can, for their own benefit, greatly help corporations or sink them. No one outside of the corporations themselves should have that kind of powerful influence. It’s one thing for CEOs and corporate leadership to make or break corporations, but no politician should be able to in order to profit from doing so.

7 months ago

Insider trading is already banned. That’s what sent Martha Stewart to jail. The problem is congress exempted themselves from the law. Now how corrupt is that?

Sean Richman
7 months ago

I feel that politicians should be stopped from trading because they have access to information before the average citizen and then you have corrupt people like peeloosli AND many others.

7 months ago

Insider trading must be stopped, especially by Congress and their staff. We also need Term Limits
to discourage additional misfeasance for donations and building personal wealth at the expense of this country.

Richard DeHart
7 months ago

Wow! Now I’m really depressed!!

Alen Gasper
7 months ago

Their ALL involved!!!!!!

Rosalee Cavanaugh
7 months ago

I am a not opposed to Republicans supporting a Democratic Bill IF IT BENEFITS THE PEOPLE. Martha Stewart served TIME IN PRISON for the same Stock trading that the people in GOVERNMENT (Pelosi, Feinstein, Family “don” Biden, etc.) do all the time throughout many years becoming wealthy beyond any common persons dreams that hope their stock picks will make them money. If it’s against the LAW they too should pay the price of prison like Martha Stewart did.

Tim Toroian
7 months ago

To hell with that aks the people what they think, or are you afraid to? And they wonder why their rating is so low. Soon it will catch the media, not a direction you want to go.

don heer
7 months ago

All congress people are out to get as much money they can like the rest of us

Enuf Said
7 months ago
Reply to  don heer

Most of the “rest” of us do it legally and morally! What’s your complicit excuse?

7 months ago

These lowlifes will say they are going to create bi-partisan legislation that outlaws this insider trading (that has been going on for decades by the way), and they will create a word salad loophole that will not see the light of day and continue to allow them to get rich while not representing America.

7 months ago

Such corruption on both sides of the aisle. I believe insider trading is a felony and both parties are involved. The excuse that my spouse bough or traded stocks at this time of insider trading took place is a crock. I read several members of Congress from both sides of the aisle were involved with insider trading last year, Yet the insider trading violation law voted on by Congress has been in the books for a while. I believe that the penalty for violating the felony law is a whopping $200 fine. Are you kidding! In addition, I also heard Ms. Pelosi made off with 30-52 million dollars from these illegal transactions. Wow a $200 fine and making off with millions. Great Trade off. So apparently, we have felons running our country, what else is new, and they ask American people why we can’t trust our government. If this felony is for real, these violators need to go to prison, and their financial gains given back to the American people. One could ask, what would happen to the American people if they were involved with such a scheme. I am sure we would be fined a lot of money and sent off to prison. How can we have confidence is such a corrupt government?

jake the snake
7 months ago

yes and i do not understand why the republicans are so bad at being political.

the democrats pull all sorts of sneaking garbage all the time yet the republican just stand there and look stupid.

7 months ago

Democrat Kathy Manning, who sits on the Foreign Affairs Committee, bought up to $30,000 in Lockheed Martin stock on October 22 of last year, just two weeks before news broke that Lockheed won a $10.9 billion contract with the Air well as Republicans trading.
This is insider trading and Martha Stewart went to jail for this..

7 months ago
Reply to  Bill

Correct. The lawless reps we have are nothing but legal criminals.

7 months ago

Any bill the Democrats put forth will have something in it that stops Republicans but allows them to get away with what they already are doing!!! Leftist always play by a set of rules that everyone else can’t! Don’t trust these folks!

7 months ago

Leave it to worthless RINOs to jump onboard and bail Democrats out. That’s the only thing they are good at. Mitch is always ready to help.

7 months ago

This is pointless and unenforceable legislation. As things stand right now, the GOP needs to not support anything the DCP offers up until after the mid terms are over. We will have a much clearer picture of how the American public really feels at that time.

Pete from St Pete
7 months ago

I hate to see the Democrats and their woke buddies in the press claim the credit for the rare times they do something good. However, we should not oppose them when they do something that is common sense and would actually be good for the country.

7 months ago

The sneaky democrats are soooo full of BS. Pelosi and Schumer are so out of touch with the American tax payer. They think we work for them, so they find more ways to take our money.
They must go; they are so self-serving! They should never be allowed to trade stocks. That is how Pelosi’s & sneaky husband got so rich $$$$$$$$$$$$. The gruesome twosome of insider trading.

Philip Hammersley
7 months ago

There are PLENTY of reasons to throw out ALL dimms this fall. Just because some of them latch on to the no-stock-trading bill, it doesn’t absolve them from their votes for infanticide, corruption, political PERSECUTION instead of prosecution, etc.

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