Roughly one in four politicians serving in Congress (or their immediate family members) have traded individual stocks over the past several years.
And nearly one-fifth—97 lawmakers—bought or sold assets in sectors that coincided with their legislative committee assignments and work.
Partly by using data from the trade monitoring platform Unusual Whales, The New York Times detailed the troubling activity in a 13 September story.
As it currently stands, there are few restrictions on members of Congress regarding the activity. But many contend that it’s an appalling abuse of power, and should be illegal.
It’s hard to compare what’s going on in Congress with almost any private sector analogy, since even executives or personnel engaging in insider trading scandals don’t have any power to legislate industries to favor their portfolios.
But needless to say, the private sector is much more tightly regulated to prevent the kind of self-enrichment via insider knowledge, than is currently the case with Congress.
Chris Josephs, CEO of Autopilot, an app designed to “copy trade” off of activity of high profile connected individuals including Congressional members, corporate insiders, etc., was one of those who reacted to and expanded on the Times story.
In one of a series of tweets about the story, Josephs observed:
“The wildest part about all of this though is that thousands of everyday employees aren’t allowed to trade individual stocks. Consultants can’t do it. Bankers can’t do it. Even many reporters can’t do it. Yet the most influential people in the country, our politicians, can.”
Josephs also pointed out that the Times story relied on Unusual Whales for data, though its piece didn’t directly credit the website.
Conflict, Power and Profit
So what kinds of stock trade profiteering have powerful members of Congress been conducting in the COVID War and Russia-Ukraine conflict era, as most Americans have seen their standard of living eroded, their businesses destroyed, and their children damaged by misguided and corrupt policies?
Here are a few lowlights of the Times story that Josephs and others have summarized:
- One-fourth of members of the Energy & Natural Resources Committee traded Exxon Mobil or Chevron
- One-third of Environment Committee members traded oil-field services
- Eight members of the Armed Services Committee traded defense or aerospace stocks
- Rep. John Rose (R-TN) traded away 250-thousand dollars in Wells Fargo stock, at 54 dollars a share, a few months before his committee issued a report that was critical of the bank; Wells Fargo stock dropped 30 percent following the report, to 37 dollars a share
- Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), who sits on the Transportation and Natural Resources committees, benefitted from multiple trades his wife made in related industries
- Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), who sits on the Intelligence Committee, sold off his entire stock portfolio on 13 Feb 2020, and bought Treasury bonds. The move saved him as much as 300 thousand dollars as the stock market tanked on subsequent government COVID lockdown policies.
Previous to the Times story, troubling stock trades of house Speaker Nancy Pelosi and others have been covered by news organizations including the Trends Journal. (See, for example, “PELOSI’S PROFIT FROM PENTAGON SWITCH TO AMAZON,” “GEN Z USING LAWMAKERS AS STOCK ORACLES” and “INSIDERS CLEAN UP ON COVID MONEY.”)
Even Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), a dogged pursuer of fiscal responsibility in government, and conflicts of interest surrounding COVID vaccines and profiteering, was caught in a stock trading controversy this past August.
His wife bought between one and 15 thousand dollars worth of Gilead stock in February of 2020, just before that company’s drug Remdesivir was announced as a possible treatment for COVID-19.
Compounding the problem, Rand’s wife failed to file a disclosure regarding the purchase in a timely manner.
Meanwhile, a September 2021 Business Insider story detailed how at least 15 members who occupy influential seats on two House and Senate committees that govern U.S. military policy had financial ties to well-known defense firms including Raytheon, Lockheed Martin and Boeing.
The investments totaled almost one million dollars in 2020, according to an BI’s analysis. And many of those politicians, both Democrats and Republicans continued to trade their investments in defense industries.
In addition, just prior to the NYT story, BI featured a piece outing 72 Congressional members for failing to report their financial trades as required by the 2012 Stock Act law (Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act).
The problem of government personnel trading stocks based on privileged information, and despite presiding oversight, goes further than Congress, as the Trends Journal has detailed.
For instance, hundreds of federal judges were implicated in financial trades that intersected with cases and matters they presided over. (See “AMERICAN LEGAL SYSTEM: A CRIME SYNDICATE?” and “ETHICS? WE’RE JUDGES. WE DON’T NEED NO STINKIN’ ETHICS!”)
Meanwhile, the heads of several regional Federal Reserve banks were implicated in illegal insider trading. (See “BANKSTER BANDITS GET RICHER PLAYING THE INSIDE TRACK,” “MORE PANDEMIC SHADY TRADES AT THE FEDERAL RESERVE?” and “FED ETHICS? FU!”)
A Catalyst For Change?
At least some are holding out hope that the newest revelations regarding Congressional abuse of power may re-focus attention on legislation that would establish limits on stock trading for members of Congress.
A Senate version of the bill, titled the “Ban Congressional Stock Trading Act,” would require each Member of Congress to divest or place in a blind trust any specified investment owned by the Member, the Member’s spouse, or a dependent of the Member.
The requirement would apply for the entire period of a Member’s service in Congress, and for 180 days after that service ceases.
The bill doesn’t outright make it illegal for politicians failing to comply. But members who don’t would essentially forfeit their Congressional salaries.
Whether any members would flout the law and continue to trade is a question worth asking. According to Chris Josephs, Nancy Pelosi, who escaped mention in the NYT story, is connected via her immediate family with trades over the 2020 to 2022 period totaling up to 65.6 million dollars.
That far outstrips her Congressional salary of 223,500 dollars.
Possible conflicting trades include Tesla and her involvement with the 1.2 trillion dollar Infrastructure Bill; Microsoft and a 10 billion dollar Army Contract; and chipmaker NVidia and the 50 Billion dollar Chips Act.
On the day following the Times story, Nancy Pelosi announced that Congress would vote on the stock trading ban legislation this month.
In December 2021, following Congressional stock trading revelations, Pelosi defended the status quo. She proclaimed at the time that lawmakers should be able to own stocks because the US is a “free-market economy.”
That can hardly be called leadership. But at least the steady raising of awareness concerning the profiteering, conflicts of interest and abuses of political power may have finally reached a point, where politicians can no longer get away with business as usual.
TRENDPOST: The game is rigged. Governments and their Bankster Bandits buddies are nothing more than a criminal syndicate that front as legitimate operations for We the People that are shilled as “democracies,” with representative governments and a banking system for the people.
There has been little coverage of these insider trader scandals that enrich politicians. And on a broader scale, it is a “revolving” door between government and Big business. Morons and imbeciles call the billions that are funneled into the electoral system “campaign contributions.” In fact they are payoffs to politicians that pass laws and cut deals for their campaign contributors.