When we elect lawmakers to public office, their mandate is simple: to serve the people.
What isn’t part of their job description? Using the sensitive information they have access to about our economy and national security to enrich themselves by trading stocks. Existing restrictions on insider trading are not doing enough to crack down on corruption. In 2021, Congress resembled a mini Wall Street, with lawmakers buying and selling hundreds of millions of dollars worth of stock.
Members of Congress have access to a tremendous amount of information about our economy and global events—often getting briefed on impending news before it breaks. So what does this look like in practice? Our elected officials can play the stock market knowing about major shifts before anyone else. Just two years ago, senators briefed on the impending COVID-19 crisis were caught buying and selling stock in companies that would soon be affected when millions of people started working from home. Imagine being tasked with helping shape the United States government’s COVID response and instead using the information to enrich yourself.
It’s time to ban members of Congress from trading individual stocks while in office. Existing ethics laws that govern congressional stock trading don’t do enough to stop members of Congress from using their access to information for personal profit. Lawmakers are required to declare their financial transactions, but we know that they regularly fail to comply with the STOCK Act, the 2012 law passed to stop insider trading and conflicts of interest in Congress. There are no public records to show whether lawmakers even paid their fines for violating the STOCK Act’s reporting requirements.
An overwhelming majority of voters—including 78 percent of Republicans—believe that our elected officials should not be allowed to buy or sell individual stocks while in office. It’s time to galvanize this support into legislation with real muscle that will put an end to this unethical behavior once and for all.
The Path to Victory
In 2022, we’ve seen growing momentum for banning sitting members of Congress from buying and selling stocks. So far, at least three major bills have been introduced on this issue. For example, Senator Jon Ossoff (D-GA) has introduced the Ban Congressional Stock Trading Act, which requires all members of Congress, and their spouses and dependent children, to put certain investments into a blind trust or divest them.
We need your help maintaining this momentum and making it clear that this behavior is unacceptable. Send an email to your lawmakers now, urging them to pass legislation that will place a ban on members of Congress buying and selling stock: