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U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) sat down for an interview with Yahoo! Finance and told them that it’s “not really a mystery” why Congress, as well as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, won’t ban members from trading stock and accused a “majority” of lawmakers of doing it.
“It’s not really a mystery to me why it’s difficult to pass. An enormous amount — I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a majority of members of Congress — hold and trade individual stock. I don’t know the actual numbers, but it is a very large degree. And you know, the key here is that it’s not to say that you can’t have a retirement fund or a college savings account,” the young socialist told Yahoo! Finance on Jan. 27. The interview was published on Wednesday.
Host Andy Sewer responded, “Or a blind trust.”
“A blind trust, a mutual fund, an index fund. These are vehicles of investments that are broad that individual members of Congress don’t have direct control over. But even last year, there was at least 75 members of Congress that held individual stock in Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, and Pfizer. And we’re talking about in the last one to two years,” she pointed out.
“And so that is where we should be drawing the line. I am a member of Congress. Members of Congress have access to very sensitive security clearances. We have access to very detailed, tailored briefs. We– our job is to try to anticipate and legislate for what we see as coming. And we should not have the ability to both have access to that information and be able to hold and trade individual stock. And that’s really what this is about. It’s about our ability to direct and hold trades in individual stock with access to the sensitive information that the public has given us,” Ocasio-Cortez concluded.
.@CongressmanRaja, @JoeNeguse and I have worked to ban members of Congress from trading individual stock for YEARS.
Lots of stories about the attempts to sink it – but now, thanks to increased public pressure + attention, we may have a shot.
Keep up the pressure 💪🏽 it’s working https://t.co/g9iMhfybfv
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) February 2, 2022
A bipartisan movement from both sides of the political aisle to ban lawmakers from trading individual stocks has gained significant momentum following a number of questionable trades that have prompted ethics concerns.
According to a Capitol Trades analysis of disclosures compiled by MarketWatch, lawmakers bought and sold shares worth over $355 million last year. Approximately 113 of the 535 members of Congress disclosed stock transactions over the past year. They bought an estimated $180 million in stock and sold $175 million.
When Pelosi was asked about banning members from trading individual stocks, she squelched the idea emphatically.
“We’re a free-market economy,” Pelosi told reporters during a news conference that took place on Dec. 15. “They [lawmakers] should be able to participate in that.”
(Video Credit: Yahoo! Finance)
Last week, she doubled down on her remarks. “I do come down always in favor of trusting our members,” Pelosi stated during her weekly briefing on Thursday.
“Now if the impression that is given by some that somebody’s doing insider trading – that’s a Justice Department issue,” she admonished. “And that has no place in any of this.”
“But to give a blanket attitude of we can’t do this and we can’t do that because we can’t be trusted. I just don’t buy into that. But if members want to do that, I’m OK with that,” she disingenuously commented.
Pelosi’s stance is not hard to understand. In December, her husband, Paul Pelosi disclosed that he bought millions in tech stocks.
When the leading Democrat was asked about the stock purchases, her chief of staff and spokesperson Drew Hammill proclaimed that they had all been made by the speaker’s husband and she did “not own any stocks herself” in an obvious bid to cleanse her of any perception of impropriety.
“The Speaker has no prior knowledge or subsequent involvement in any transactions,” Hammill told the Daily Mail.
In December, Ocasio-Cortez called the practice of trading stocks while in Congress “ludicrous.”
“The access and influence we have should be exercised for the public interest, not our profit,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted.
It is absolutely ludicrous that members of Congress can hold and trade individual stock while in office.
The access and influence we have should be exercised for the public interest, not our profit. It shouldn’t be legal for us to trade individual stock with the info we have. https://t.co/Z3UZej2eC2
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) December 8, 2021
There is no reason members of Congress should hold and trade individual stock when we write major policy and have access to sensitive information.
There are many ways members can invest w/o creating actual or appeared conflict of interest,like thrift savings plans or index funds https://t.co/VK4Pgx8AgI
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) December 18, 2021
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