The ETHICS Act Could Finally End Stock Trading Scandals


The Ending Trading and Holdings in Congressional Stocks (ETHICS) Act, introduced by Senator Jeff Merkley, would ban congressional stock ownership and trading. This bill would be an important step towards improving accountability and reducing corruption in Congress.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senator Jeff Merkley (Oregon) introduced the Ending Trading and Holdings in Congressional Stocks (ETHICS) Act, a consensus bill aiming to address a long-standing gap in our laws that has allowed the controversial stock trading to flourish among lawmakers, resulting in significant public distrust in our elected officials.

The ETHICS Act, the product of months of conversations and years of advocacy, would prohibit Members of Congress, as well as their spouses and dependent minors, from owning or trading securities, commodities or futures – a ban supported by 70 percent of American voters. To meet this obligation, Members could divest their stocks completely, exchange their stocks in individual companies for mutual funds, or place their assets into a qualified blind trust. The legislation would also include meaningful new penalties for rules violations.

“The ETHICS Act is the reform that the public has been waiting to see,” said Kedric Payne, Vice President, General Counsel and Senior Director for Ethics at Campaign Legal Center. “Voters are seeking assurance that their representatives in Congress are not sidelining constituent needs in favor of self-enrichment. The Senate should swiftly take up this legislation or the stock trading scandals will continue to go unpunished and deteriorate public trust.  The ETHICS Act is a long overdue step towards restoring ethics in Congress.”

As our elected officials debate and craft laws that directly impact the lives of Americans, voters have a right to know whether their representatives are acting in the public’s interest or towards the furtherance of their own financial gain. The ETHICS Act is an important step towards ensuring that these concerns are understood and addressed.