Ethics-concerned lawmakers and experts who have labored for years to persuade Congress to regulate itself over apparent conflicts of interest were surprised by POLITICO’s findings because Congress passed a law designed to curb lawmaker insider trading and stock trades just five years ago. They had assumed 2012’s Stock Act, which created new disclosures about the stock trades and for the first time explicitly barred lawmakers from insider trading, had deterred most lawmakers from engaging in conflicts of interest. At the time the bill was passed, many thought the simple fear of exposure and political embarrassment would stop the conflicts of interest.
Now they aren’t so sure.
House and Senate members who are active traders insist their buying and selling is a normal part of managing their finances, as with any American who wants to save for retirement or put their kids through school. But their colleagues don’t seem to agree. The clear majority of lawmakers avoid potential conflicts of interest by buying mutual funds, putting their portfolios in blind trusts or simply staying out of the stock market.
POLITICO found that 384 House members and senators who served in the 114th Congress made no stock trades over the past two years. Meanwhile, the lawmakers who are active in stock trading conducted a total of more than 21,300 trades during the past two years, but a small group of very wealthy lawmakers accounted for a significant share of those trades.
This has to be resolved. If these government employees receive information that gives them an advantage in buying and selling (insider trading) – then they are breaking the law.
A good example is Martha Stewart who Comey sent to jail because of insider trading.
Time to resolve this.