Note: this article, featuring Government Accountability Project, was originally published here.
Spanberger, Roy Introduce Bill to Prevent Insider Trading, Strengthen Transparency, Accountability in Congress
Reps. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) and Chip Roy (R-Texas) today introduced legislation to further prevent insider trading by members of Congress and increase government accountability.
The 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.
By establishing this new firewall between Members and their investments, 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.
“At a moment when the public’s trust in our political process remains low, we need to make a concerted effort to reduce opportunities for corruption and rebuild trust between lawmakers and the American people. The TRUST in Congress Act is directly in line with these objectives, and I’m encouraged to see our bill receive a wide range of support from government accountability organizations across the political spectrum,” said Spanberger. “I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation today alongside my colleague Congressman Roy. Our bill makes sure the public can trust that their elected officials are working to advance the best interests of those they represent — not the interests of their personal financial portfolios. I look forward to moving our bill forward, because strengthening democratic, transparent representation should be one of our top priorities in Congress.”
“This is about making it easier for Members of Congress to do their job — representing their constituents — without being seen as doing it for a financial motive, or other personal gain. As Members of Congress, we have the distinct privilege of serving our communities back home in Washington,” said Roy. “Our bill, the TRUST in Congress Act, will help make sure that is the primary focus of elected-representatives in Washington, D.C. I’m happy to work again with my friend and colleague Congresswoman Spanberger to get this bill across the finish line.”
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, National Freedom of Information Coalition, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), Campaign Legal Center, Common Cause, Americans for Prosperity, and Democracy 21.
“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, Policy Analyst, Project on Government Oversight (POGO). “It isn’t always easy to clean up your own house but these two 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 (NTU). “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 Representatives 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, Ph.D., Government Affairs, 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.”
Specifically, the Spanberger-Roy 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 1) 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 2) 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.