Culpeper Star-Exponent: Spanberger renews push for insider stock trading ban in Congress

CULPEPER STAR-EXPONENT

U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger, a Democrat from Virginia, is reviving her work with Rep. Chip Roy, a Republican from Texas, to ban insider trading among members of Congress, their spouses and dependent children.

The 7th Congressional District lawmaker is pushing House leaders, before month’s end, to bring a bill to the floor enacting a ban on congressional stock trading.

On Thursday, Sept. 1, Spanberger joined eight colleagues in writing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and the chair and ranking member of the Committee on House Administration to call for a vote by Sept. 30. Their proposal outlines principles to be included in any legislation.

In June 2020, Spanberger and Roy introduced the Transparent Representation Upholding Service and Trust (TRUST) in Congress Act, to reduce opportunities for lawmakers’ insider trading and increase transparency. They reintroduced it in January 2021.

Roy told NPR that U.S. lawmakers have an inherent conflict of interests because they attend briefings and serve on committees that affect corporations’ bottom lines.

“If you are buying calls on Google … how can American people have confidence that you’re going to make a truly objective policy decision on the size and scope of Google with respect to antitrust questions, for example?” Roy said in the radio interview with Spanberger.

In that interview, Spanberger said of their effort to ban insider trading in Congress: “It’s a chance for us to say … when I’m working on legislation, when I’m taking a vote, when I’m in a briefing, I’m not thinking, ‘Oh, let me wonder how this could benefit me financially.’ I’m thinking about, ‘How do I serve my constituents?’ People deserve to know that we are working for them first and foremost, and not our own financial stock portfolios.”

Their proposal to address the issue, in combination with other bipartisan legislation already submitted, would require members of Congress, their spouses and dependent children to put certain investment assets into a qualified blind trust while the member is in Congress.

It would prohibit covered persons from owning or trading securities, commodities, futures, derivatives, options or other similar financial assets, including where such investments are traded through an investment vehicle controlled by them.

Additionally, the effort would require such people to divest prohibited investments within 120 days of the effective date; place such investments in a Qualified Blind Trust; or diversify the investments by putting them in widely held, diversified mutual or exchange-traded funds or U.S. Treasury bills, notes or bonds.

Joining Spanberger and Roy in the letter to Pelosi were Reps. Angie Craig (D-MN), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Jared Golden (D-ME), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Andy Kim (D-NJ), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), Joe Neguse (D-CO), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Katie Porter (D-CA).

“We stand ready to help advance this important legislative priority through Congress and to the President’s desk,” the letter states.

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