WASHINGTON (Nexstar) – On Capitol Hill, some lawmakers want to prohibit members of Congress from owning stocks because they say it creates conflicts of interest and ethical problems.
Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley says stock trading by members of Congress is wrong and should be banned.
“It’s corrupt because members use advantageous access to information — information not available to the general public — to win stock market returns that beat the market year after year,” Sen. Merkley (D-OR) said.
Moves by some lawmakers to sell off stock just before the pandemic lockdowns created concerns and Senator Sherrod Brown says there are more recent examples of potentially problematic trading.
“As Silicon Valley Bank was closed, even during that period there are reports that members of Congress were trading bank stocks. I mean, imagine that,” Sen. Brown (D-OH) said.
Supporters of a trading ban say there’s too much temptation for lawmakers and say owning stocks can also create other conflicts of interest.
“Member portfolios have the potential to influence how they write legislation and how they vote on bills,” Merkley added.
The proposed ban has bipartisan support as Sen. J.D. Vance (R-OH) noted, “Unfortunately, it happens way too often in this town. You have a member of Congress who gets a special piece of information, maybe a classified piece of intelligence, and then they trade stocks getting rich off the public trust.”
If passed, it would force lawmakers, their spouses and dependents to stop trading and move their money to investments like a blind trust by the end of their current term.