Bipartisan coalition reintroducing House legislation to prevent insider trading
This article features Government Accountability Project and was originally published here.
Seventh District Democrat Abigail Spanberger is reintroducing legislation to prevent insider trading by members of Congress.
Spanberger’s Transparent Representation Upholding Service and Trust (TRUST) in Congress Act would increase transparency and reduce opportunities for nefarious activity to occur by requiring members of Congress — as well as their spouses and dependent children — to put certain investment assets into a qualified blind trust during their entire tenure in Congress.
The TRUST in Congress Act would make sure members of Congress cannot use their positions in the U.S. House or U.S. Senate to unethically inform investment decisions or influence the value of their existing investments.
“Strengthening our democracy and building true resilience against corruption is not just about preventing unethical decisions, but it is also about addressing the feeling among many Americans that their elected officials and government don’t work for them. This perception is damaging to our democracy, and the TRUST in Congress Act would help build trust and assure the public that members of Congress are not serving their own financial interests,” said Spanberger.
“By creating a firewall between members of Congress and their investments, this bill would prevent members of Congress from profiting off their influence and access to information on Capitol Hill. I’m encouraged to see the TRUST in Congress Act has received such a wide range of support from lawmakers and government accountability organizations from across the political spectrum, and I look forward to getting our own house in order by enacting good government protections that ensure lawmakers are focused on the needs of their constituents, not themselves.”
Spanberger led the reintroduction of the TRUST in Congress Act along with U.S. Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX-21). The bipartisan bill is also cosponsored by Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC-AL), Scott Perry (R-PA-10), Mondaire Jones (D-NY-17), Fred Keller (R-PA-12), Bill Foster (D-IL-11), Ron Wright (R-TX-06), and Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA-06).
The TRUST in Congress Act would:
- Require all members of Congress, and their spouses and dependent children, to put certain investment assets into a qualified blind trust within 90 days after the enactment of this legislation.New members of Congress, and their spouses and dependent children, would be required to place covered investments into a qualified blind trust within 90 days of assuming office. Affected individuals can remove assets from the blind trust 180 days after the member leaves Congress.
- Require all members to either certify to the Clerk of the House of Representatives or the Secretary of the Senate that they have established a blind trust to include covered investments or certify to the Clerk or the Secretary that they do not own any covered investments. The status of these certifications would be made publicly available by the Clerk of the House of Representatives and the Secretary of the Senate.
- Define covered investments as the following: a security, commodity, future, or any comparable economic interest acquired through synthetic means such as the use of a derivative.
- Clarify that the following do not qualify as covered investments for the purpose of this bill: a widely held investment fund (such as a mutual fund) or a U.S. Treasury bill, note, or bond. These investments would not have to be placed in a blind trust.
Click here for the full bill text.
The bipartisan TRUST in Congress Act has been endorsed by many key advocacy and government accountability organizations, including the Project on Government Oversight (POGO), National Taxpayers Union, Taxpayers for Common Sense, Public Citizen, Government Information Watch, Protect Democracy, Government Accountability Project, FreedomWorks, Taxpayers Protection Alliance, Issue One, Open the Government, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), Campaign Legal Center, Americans for Prosperity, Democracy 21, Fix the Court, End Citizens United Action Fund, and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).
“Part of restoring trust in government is giving the public reassurance that elected officials are not enriching themselves in office,” said Larry J. Sabato, director, University of Virginia Center for Politics. “The bipartisan TRUST in Congress Act would set guidelines to prevent not only actual impropriety, but also the appearance of impropriety. It is difficult to see how anyone in either party could oppose this.”
“For members of Congress to fulfill their mission of being effective representatives for the American people, they must have the trust of their constituents. That trust is jeopardized when it appears as though members of Congress are putting their own financial self-interest above the public interest. Rep. Spanberger and Rep. Roy should be applauded for introducing a bill that would go a long way toward ensuring this trust by requiring that all members of Congress place certain financial assets into a blind trust, which would dramatically reduce the likelihood of insider trading and other conflicts of interest,” said Dylan Hedtler-Gaudette, government affairs manager, Project on Government Oversight. “It isn’t always easy to clean up your own house, but these members of Congress are demonstrating leadership and courage by advancing legislation that would do just that.”
“While every member of Congress should be invested in the general economic and financial well-being of the country, the institution of Congress must also ensure that Members are not using their privileged position to benefit distinct interests over others. The Transparent Representation Upholding Service and Trust in Congress Act would achieve this proper balance by requiring members of Congress, their spouses, and their dependent children to place assets in a blind trust, through 180 days after a member of Congress ends their service,” said Andrew Lautz, policy and government affairs manager, National Taxpayers Union. “When representatives and senators take the oath of office at the beginning of each session of Congress, their first and foremost duty is to the hundreds of thousands of taxpayers they serve. This legislation from Reps. Spanberger and Roy would reaffirm that duty, and National Taxpayers Union applauds them for introducing the bill.”
“While the STOCK Act vastly reduced the problem of congressional insider trading, reducing stock trading activity by members of Congress by more than 60 percent, many in Congress remain unfazed by public concerns that they may be using their access to nonpublic material information for private gain,” said Craig Holman from Public Citizen. “Reps. Spanberger and Roy have introduced legislation to once and for all bring an end to the potential for congressional insider trading by requiring all Members to place their holdings in genuine blind trusts. Public Citizen wholeheartedly endorses the measure.”