BREAKING: Campaign Legal Center Files Ethics Complaint Against Tennessee’s Rep. Diana Harshbarger for Failing to Properly Disclose Over 700 Stock Trades this Year
Under the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act, members of Congress must disclose a stock trade within 45 days of the trade with no exceptions. All members and their staff receive mandatory STOCK Act training.
Washington D.C. – Today, Campaign Legal Center (CLC) filed a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics against Rep. Diana Harshbarger for failure to comply with the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act.
In a periodic transaction report filed earlier this week, Rep. Harshbarger acknowledged over 700 trades that violate the STOCK Act due to the fact that they were not disclosed within the proper window of time. While the stocks are assets of her trust, this is not a blind trust, and the report concedes that she was notified of the transactions soon after they occurred.
“The reason we have the STOCK Act is to allow voters full, real-time awareness of interests held by elected officials that may conflict with their official duties. But we don’t currently have meaningful enforcement,” said Kedric Payne, general counsel and senior director of ethics at Campaign Legal Center. “Members of Congress cannot continue to shirk their responsibility and see a nominal fine as their only repercussion for denying voters transparency when it comes to their financial interests.”
The actions of Rep. Harshbarger follow a troubling, bipartisan trend. Already this year, CLC has filed similar complaints over violations of the STOCK Act by Sen. Rand Paul and Sen. Tommy Tuberville as well as Reps. Pat Fallon, Blake Moore and Tom Malinowski.
This is just one more example of an elected official ignoring the STOCK Act by failing to report a large volume of stock trades and facing little consequence. Because ethics proceedings lack significant transparency, it is next to impossible to determine what consequences, if any, members who commit such violations face.
What we are witnessing is the dismantling of the STOCK Act as members wait until their annual financial disclosures to reveal stock trades and are thus not held accountable for failing to provide real-time disclosure under the law. It is clear that the current ethics enforcement system, built on a foundation of self-policing in which members of Congress are responsible for enforcing their own ethics rules for their own colleagues, is not working. As elected officials craft laws that directly impact the lives of all Americans, the public must be able to trust that their representatives are acting in the public’s interest, and not for their own financial gain.
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