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Ukraine shows why members of Congress are not allowed to own shares

If you want to get rich, get pregnant.

This fact is the worst kept secret in America. Like NPR Was observed: “Young investors have a new strategy: watch the financial disclosures of sitting members of Congress for stock tips.”

That racket was reported six months ago, and nothing has changed since. Members of Congress still enjoy unprecedented access to inside information, and whenever there’s a crisis, they quickly monetize it. The latest example involves Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

While Congress is debating “economic sanctions, military assistance, and billions of dollars in emergency spending, to respond to this crisis in Ukraine,” CNBC’s Ylan Q. Mui . report, “More than a dozen members reported transactions – their own or their spouses or children – in areas directly affected by the war in Ukraine.” CNBC estimates total trading activity since February 1 to be around $7.7 million.

“It looks like Congress has viewed this as a gold rush,” Fox News’ Jesse Watters commented last week. “They know what sanctions can be put in place, and all they have [were] dollar sign in their eyes. Members from both sides of the political aisle poured money into the market…so Ukraine burned like that, Congress got rich.”

Waters pointed out that Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, a Democrat, bought energy stocks in late January that “have shot through the roof” since the purchase. “Perhaps she knows something that we don’t?” Watters concluded, “And unfortunately, she’s not alone.”

The day before Russian tanks entered Ukraine, GOP Representative. Marjorie Taylor Greene tweeted: “War and rumors of war are extremely profitable and convenient.”

She is right. Greene later revealed that just two days before the Russian invasion, she bought stock from a major defense contractor, an oil company, and an energy company.

In a statement for Business Insider, Greene said that “her investment advisor has sole discretion over our accounts.” I guess we’ll have to listen to her about that.

This behavior is all too common. When it comes to profiteering, members of Congress never let a major crisis unfold.

Let’s look at some recent history.

On September 16, 2008, Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke held a closed-door meeting with members of Congress. Equal Business Insider noted in 2011, “The MPs with this information reacted – not by scrapping everything and devising a plan to save the economy, but by dumping stocks and avoiding further losses. harm others will suffer in the coming month. Others bought shares in financial companies that would later be saved by the federal government.”

Many Americans learned about this from an episode of CBS 60 minutes, It was first broadcast in November 2011.

“During the 2009 healthcare debate, members of Congress traded healthcare stocks, including House Minority Leader John Boehner,” said Steve Croft of the House of Representatives. 60 minutes speak. “Just a few days before [public option] eventually killed, Boehner buys healthcare stocks—all bullish.” (As was the case with Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Boehner spokeswoman said the transactions were made by Boehner’s financial advisor “who he advises about about once a year.”)

The 60 minutes The report led to Congress passing the Congressional Knowledge-Based Trading Stop (HOW) Act, which prohibits any member or employee of Congress from using “any information that is not any publicity derived from the position of the individual… or obtained from the performance of the individual’s duties, for personal gain.”

How well does the new law work? Fast forward to the COVID crisis, as GOP Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina – one of three senators to vote against the STOCK Act – was also one of four members of Congress to have made deals. suspicious stocks in 2020; The transaction has been done after received classified reports of COVID-19 but prior to the public realizes the seriousness of the pandemic.

“When it comes to profiteering, members of Congress never let a major crisis unfold.”

According to CNBC, on February 13, 2020, Burr “unloaded stock worth between $630,000 and $1.7 million, with 33 individual trades executed that day. The stocks he sells represent a substantial portion of his financial portfolio. ”

A week later, the stock market began to plunge.

The FBI seized Burr’s phone and he resigned as chairman of his committee. However, the Trump Justice Department ultimately decided not to charge him or any of the senators.

We shouldn’t be surprised. It’s almost impossible demonstrate that someone acted solely on inside information. And even if someone is found breaking the law — and following Business InsiderBy Dave Levinthal, at least 57 members of Congress have (remember, those are just the ones we know about) — the penalties are grotesque.

The good news is that there is bipartisan support for banning members of Congress (and their immediate families) from investing in the stock market. After opposing such efforts, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi – who has profited greatly from curious stock market opportunities – has now stepped back from his previous opposition to the idea. .

In a perfect world, virtue and responsibility would prevent most legislators from using their office to nest. Without that, something needs to be done to prevent the appearance of a mismatch, because it is contributing to the impression that the game is rigged.

As the wealth gap between legislators and ordinary Americans continues to widen, trust in government continues to erode. I am not suggesting that there is a direct correlation, but anyone interested in preserving American democracy should be concerned about these trends.

Big problems in government often don’t have an easy solution. That is not the case here. What to do is obvious.

It’s time to ban stock trading for members of Congress and their families.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/ukraine-shows-why-congress-members-shouldnt-be-allowed-to-own-stocks?source=articles&via=rss Ukraine shows why members of Congress are not allowed to own shares

Russell Falcon

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