Home / General / Members of Congress should not be able to trade individual equities

Members of Congress should not be able to trade individual equities

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I alluded to this with respect to Rand Paul’s insider trading, but Helaine Olen has a great column on how this particular type of felonious corruption should be particularly easy to preempt:

It’s not simply that the timing of the purchase is oddly coincidental — neither Paul (R-Ky.) nor his wife, Kelley, had bought an individual stock in at least a decade. The scandal is that members of Congress and their immediate families are allowed to dabble in individual equities, period.

As Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) — who is co-sponsoringlegislation that would ban all members of Congress and their senior staff from holding individual stocks — tweeted: “It shouldn’t be legal.”

The idea that members of Congress and their spouses could trade stocks without eventually running into trouble, even unintentional trouble, is so ludicrous, only a nation with a high tolerance for political corruption would permit it. The problem is basic: It is almost impossible for federal legislators, if they’re investing in individual stocks, to not, at some point, at least look as if they’re engaging in insider trading.

Our senators and representatives are the constant recipients of confidential briefings on national policy, foreign entanglements and possible crises (like, er, covid). It defies reason to believe they can separate the intelligence they learn in confidence from the decisions they make on how to invest.

You want to be a legislator, put it in an index fund or T-Bills.

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