Poll after poll finds that voters across the political spectrum are seriously concerned about corruption in Washington. Today, more than three in five adults in the U.S. say that most or all political candidates run for office to “serve their own personal interests.” Members of Congress using nonpublic information to buy and sell stocks is exactly the kind of thing that has eroded the public’s trust in government in recent years.
And while insider trading is already illegal, enforcement against members of Congress is nearly impossible — so lawmakers have been gaming the market in full view of the public. Over 65 members of Congress and nearly 200 congressional staffers have violated even the meager transparency requirements that apply to their trading activity under the 2012 STOCK Act. And most have gotten away with it scot-free.
To restore confidence that members of Congress aren’t putting their own financial interests above the interests of the public, we must ban members of Congress from trading stocks while in office, full stop. This is a measure supported by POGO and 70% of voters.
Legislation addressing this issue must:
Prohibit the trading of stocks and similar assets susceptible to insider trading;
Require that stocks and similar assets held prior to taking office either be placed into a qualified blind trust or completely divested altogether;
And apply to members of Congress, their spouses, and dependent children, as well as congressional staffers.