Ban federal lawmakers and their family members from trading stocks, 37 former lawmakers tell Congress

Ban federal lawmakers and their family members from trading stocks, 37 former lawmakers tell Congress
Former Sen. Mark Udall, a Democrat from Colorado, is among 37 former federal lawmakers calling on Congress to ban its members — and their immediate family members — from trading stocks.Reuters
  • Dozens of members of Congress have violated a federal conflicts-of-interest law.
  • The former lawmakers say a congressional stock ban will "help restore public trust."

Thirty-seven former members of Congress are asking current congressional lawmakers to ban themselves — and their immediate family members — from trading individual stocks while in office.

"Congress has a unique opportunity right now to help restore public trust," the group of 25 Democrats and 12 Republicans wrote in a letter sent Wednesday to every congressional office. "Members on both sides of the aisle, along with the American public, share concern over members holding financial securities in companies that are directly affected by legislation under their control."

Among the signatories: former Sens. Gary Hart, a Democrat of Colorado; Russ Feingold, a Democrat of Wisconsin; and Carol Moseley-Braun, a Democrat of Illinois; as well as former Reps. Charles Boustany, a Republican of Louisiana; Sue Myrick, a Republican of North Carolina; Chris Shays, a Republican of Connecticut; Zach Wamp, a Republican of Tennessee; and Tim Roemer, a Democrat of Indiana.

The letter, sent under the auspices of nonpartisan government reform group Issue One, arrives as the Committee on House Administration is scheduled Thursday to conduct a congressional hearing on whether to ban or otherwise restrict members of Congress from buying and selling stocks.

Also up for debate: whether penalties for violating the current Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act of 2012 are too weak.


Insider's "Conflicted Congress" project in December found that dozens of lawmakers, and at least 182 senior congressional staffers, had in recent months failed to comply with the reporting requirements of the STOCK Act.

"Conflicted Congress" also found numerous examples of conflicts of interest among federal lawmakers.

For example, at least 75 members of Congress or their spouses bought or sold stock in companies that make COVID-19 vaccines, treatments, and tests in the weeks before and after the pandemic gripped the US in early 2020.

Four members of Congress or their spouses have either currently or recently invested money in Russian companies, and at least 19 have invested money in defense contractors that make weapons Ukraine is using to fight Russia's invasion.

"As times change, so must the laws that govern oversight of Members in order to reduce the appearance of corruption," the group of former lawmakers wrote. "The moment has come to close loopholes and ensure Americans know their members are working for them. The onus now rests on Members of both parties to come together and find the best possible solutions."


In late March, a coalition of 19 advocacy and watchdog groups similarly called on House leadership to support legislation that would bar members of Congress, as well as their spouses and dependent children, from trading individual stocks.

Both Republicans and Democrats have introduced several different bills designed to curb lawmakers' stock trading. Leaders from both parties have signaled an openness to, if not outright support of, changes to the STOCK Act and related Ethics in Government Act. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has played a leading role in negotiating legislation that Congress would vote on.

But it's unclear whether there's requisite support among members to advance significant reforms, and if there is, what specific forms they'll take.

Democratic Rep. Elaine Luria of Virginia, commenting on a proposed stock-trade ban, said the "whole concept is bullshit … why would you assume that members of Congress are going to be inherently bad or corrupt?"

Rep. Rodney Davis of Illinois, the ranking Republican on the Committee on House Administration, is also skeptical of stopping his congressional colleagues from trading stocks, although he said he hasn't yet made up his mind on a path forward.


"I don't want to pigeonhole myself into laying out what I think my priorities are," he told Insider.