New York Post: Congress ‘long overdue’ to ban stock trading, Abigail Spanberger says

NEW YORK POST, RICH CALDER

A Virginia pol says it’s time for Congress to finally pass her stalled bill banning fellow members and their families from trading stock while in office, after a new report found dozens of lawmakers beat the market in 2022 despite Wall Street suffering its worst year since 2008.

“These numbers illustrate the obvious — that we are long overdue for a vote on legislation to ban” stock trading in Congress — the Trust in Congress Act, Rep. Abigail Spanberger told The Post.

“A vast majority of the American people want to get this done, and lawmakers should show that they are focused solely on advancing the interests of the American people — not the interests of their own stock portfolios,” the Dem continued.

Spanberger — who was joined Thursday by Texas Republican Rep. Chip Roy in reintroducing the bipartisan bill — was responding to an eye-opening report by the stock-trading news site Unusual Whales. It showed the S&P 500 was down 18.2% in 2022 as many Americans’ 401Ks sank like the Titanic, but Democratic Congress members and senators who traded saw their returns drop only 1.76%. Republican pols actually finished up 0.4% on their trades.

Topping the list of winners was Rep. Patrick Fallon (R-Texas), who made 51.6% on his investments in 2022. Right behind him was Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-Fla.), with a 50.8% spike, and Rep. Susie Lee (D-Nevada) at 21.4%.

Fallon’s most lucrative bet was on Twitter. He snatched up as much as $150,000 worth of stock in January 2022 and flipped it after Elon Musk announced plans to acquire the social media giant — making as much as $75,000, according to the analysis.

Former Rep. Marie Newman (D-Illinois), who lost a re-election bid last year, was one of the few members of Congress to do worse than the S&P 500, finishing last among her stock-market playing Congress colleagues with a net loss of 83.1%.

But the most notable loser last year: California Democrat Nancy Pelosi, who waffled back and forth over her stances on a proposed trading ban in 2021 and 2022 when she was still House speaker. Her family portfolio, overseen by venture capitalist husband Paul Pelosi, dropped 19.8%.

No New York City-based pols were prominently featured in the document, but Unusual Whales provided The Post additional data showing modest trading activity in securities over the past two years by new House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries and former Rep. Carolyn Maloney, both Democrats.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said through a spokesman he backs banning trading by Congress members.

Usual Whales relied on financial disclosure forms filed by 131 – or 24% — of the 535 members of Congress who reported trading activity in 2022. An earlier report it released in 2021 also showed Congress members fared better at trading than the average United States investor.

As the Post has previously reported, dozens of lawmakers across both parties have a long history of curiously timed trades involving the companies they regulate.

Members of Congress are required to disclose their stock trades, though they often snub the law by doing so weeks or months after making them.

In 2022, they traded up to $788 million in various assets through more than 12,700 purchases, sales and exchanges. That’s $189 million less in trades than 2021 when there were similar number of transactions reported by 147 pols who filed disclosure statements.

Among the top stocks purchased last year by Congress members were Apple ($6.3 million), Disney ($6.25 million), Google ($6.2 million), Musk’s electric car company Tesla ($6.08 million) and tech giant Nvidia ($5.68 million). Top stocks hawked included Visa ($11.2 million), Nvidia ($6.35 million), Exxon Mobile ($5.32 million), pharmaceutical titan Eli Lilly ($5.21 million) and Microsoft ($3.4 million).

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