Caitlin MacNeal, Communications Director at the Project On Government Oversight, [email protected]
Kevin Glass, Vice President of Communications and Outreach at National Taxpayers Union, [email protected]
(WASHINGTON) — Our organizations have worked together with a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the hopes of enacting a robust, enforceable ban on Congressional stock trading into law. The Combatting Financial Conflicts of Interest in Government Act, draft legislation just released by House Administration Committee Democrats, falls woefully short.
The bill, crafted largely in secret, contains a significant loophole that would allow the federal government to approve weak blind trusts not only for members of Congress, but also for the executive and judicial branches. Allowing members of Congress to create trusts that only provide the appearance that they have given up control of their conflicting assets fails to meaningfully improve the congressional ethics program, and it will actively weaken the standards in the executive branch. Additionally, the bill lacks the airtight enforcement provisions necessary to ensure complete compliance with the newly proposed restrictions and give the public confidence that violations will not be tolerated.
It is because of our longstanding commitment to seeing a strong law on this issue that we regrettably cannot support this bill as written.
Congress should not settle for this legislation. The public should not settle for this legislation. There are already strong, bipartisan proposals in the House that would effectively prevent insider trading and mitigate conflicts of interest. We urge lawmakers to either spend a little extra time to get this bill right or to coalesce around a stronger, preexisting bill. The American taxpayers deserve legislation that will truly ensure their elected representatives do not operate with financial conflicts of interest, but instead legislate in the best interest of their constituents.