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Democrats in Congress Point Fingers at Their Leaders Over Stock Trading Ban


Loeffler lost her seat to a Democrat, Raphael Warnock, in 2020. And Burr, a moderate, is retiring. His old seat is one in all Democrats’ few pickup opportunities this 12 months.

The Latest York Times’s investigative reporter Kate Kelly, together with our colleagues Adam Playford and Alicia Parlapiano, recently examined 1000’s of publicly reported trades by 97 members of Congress or their immediate relations.

Drawing on data from a three-year period, they found greater than 3,700 trades that posed what they described as “potential conflicts between their public responsibilities and personal funds.” Read their investigation here.

To get her insights, I asked Kelly 4 questions on the flap over stock trading. Here is our conversation, edited evenly for length and clarity:

There’s already a law on the books, the 2012 STOCK Act, that bars insider trading by members of Congress. So why do some lawmakers think it needs an update?

The STOCK Act reaffirmed that lawmakers aren’t allowed to insider-trade — no one within the U.S. is — and it mandated that they disclose periodic transactions they and their immediate family made in stocks, bonds and other financial assets that were valued at $1,000 or more inside 45 days. However the law did nothing to dissuade those lawmakers and relations from trading assets that may very well be influenced by their work in Congress.

Let’s say you’re investigating a catastrophic manufacturing glitch in an American-made automotive and also you sell shares of the auto company involved a few days before your committee issues a negative report that makes the stock plunge. That’s inappropriate and must be against the law, in line with many lawmakers. There are other, grayer areas, and insider-trading cases against members are pretty rare. However the mere proven fact that Americans see conflicts of interest in congressional trading is problem enough, is the sensation.

From talking to lawmakers about this topic, I get the sense that many resent the implication that they’re using their positions to earn a living on the side. How much of what you uncovered is merely the looks of corruption, versus the actual thing?

It’s entirely the previous, though we will’t rule out the latter — we just didn’t uncover enough evidence to point out that any particular case was insider trading. The rarity of civil or criminal investigations into these cases makes it hard to know what’s really happening, whether it’s essentially routine transactions based on market research and customary knowledge or a trade that was inspired by information learned in Congress.

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