WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today introduced the Ban Conflicted Trading Act, new legislation that would prohibit members of Congress from abusing their public positions for personal financial gain.
The Ban Conflicted Trading Act responds to multiple scandals in recent years in which members of Congress have been found buying and selling stocks in certain industries, while at the same time crafting legislation that affects those industries.
“It’s way past time to end conflicted trading, in which legislators and top staff trade in stocks while making decisions affecting their value. This is scandalous,” said Merkley. “It undermines both the integrity of governance and the perception of integrity. Let’s end this corruption now!”
“Members of Congress serve the American people, not their stock portfolios,” said Brown. “Elected officials have access to nonpublic information that can affect individual companies and entire industries. There must be more accountability and transparency to prevent members from using this information and abusing their positions for personal gain.”
The Ban Conflicted Trading Act would prohibit members of Congress and senior congressional staff from buying or selling individual stocks and other investments while in office.
New members would be allowed to sell individual holdings within six months of being elected, and sitting members of Congress would be allowed to sell individual holdings within six months after enactment of the bill. Alternatively, members of Congress can choose to hold existing investments while in office—with no option for trading until they leave office—or transfer them to a blind trust. Members of Congress would still be allowed to hold widely-held investments, such as diversified mutual funds and exchange-traded funds.
In addition, the legislation would prohibit members of Congress from serving on any corporate boards while in office.