March 24, 2020

Representatives Neguse, Krishnamoorthi, and Ocasio-Cortez Introduce Legislation To Prohibit Government Officials From Profiting Off Their Positions By Trading Stocks

The Ban Conflicted Trading Act, introduced in the Senate by Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon, would bar members of Congress and senior congressional staff from buying or selling individual stocks

Washington D.C.—Representatives Joe Neguse, Raja Krishnamoorthi (IL-08), and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), today introduced the Ban Conflicted Trading Act, legislation to prohibit Members of Congress and senior congressional staff from abusing their positions for personal financial gain through trading individual stocks and investments while in office or serving on corporate boards. The legislation comes in the wake of allegations that multiple senators sold millions of dollars’ worth of stock based on information they obtained through a closed-door congressional coronavirus briefing. 

“The Ban Conflicted Trading Act will hold all members accountable to ensure they do not use their position in office to make a personal profit,” said Representative Neguse. “This is a common-sense measure to help even the playing field for every American who is trading public stock, and I am proud to co-lead this important legislation with Representatives Krishnamoorthi and Ocasio-Cortez.”

“The recent news reports have made it clear that it’s past time to end the potential conflicts of interest created by Members of Congress and their top staffers trading in stocks while making decisions affecting their values and receiving sensitive, nonpublic information through government service,” said Representative Krishnamoorthi. “Our legislation will prevent members from trading individual stocks and holding positions on corporate boards to help ensure that Congress is working for the American people and not their own stock portfolios.”

“Members of Congress should not be allowed to buy and sell individual stock,” said Representative Ocasio-Cortez. “We are here to serve the public, not to profiteer." 

The bill follows the Senate introduction of the Ban Conflicted Trading Act by Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon last year, which he authored and introduced in the wake of federal and congressional insider-trading investigations into former Representative Chris Collins.

“The American people entrust Members of Congress with tremendous responsibilities so that we can serve their interests, and they should never have to wonder who we're working for,” said Senator Merkley. “Buying and selling stocks while making decisions that affect the stock’s value is inherently a conflict of interest.  At best, it can seriously degrade public trust—as we are seeing today. At worst, it’s a blatant abuse of power. It’s time for Congress to put an end to this practice of conflicted trading without delay.”

Under The Ban Conflicted Trading Act, Members of Congress and senior congressional staff would be barred from buying or selling individual stocks or other investments while in office. Upon joining Congress, new members would be allowed to sell individual holdings within their first six months in office while sitting members would be allowed to sell their individual holdings within six months of the bill’s enactment. Members would also have the option of retaining their existing investments while in office, so long as they do not trade them while in office, or transferring their holdings into a blind trust. Additionally, members would still be permitted to hold widely-held, broad-based investments, such as diversified mutual funds and exchange-traded funds. The legislation also prohibits Members of Congress from serving on corporate boards while in office, which the Senate has already barred but the House currently permits.