Campaign Legal Center (CLC) recently endorsed the TRUST in Congress Act, a bipartisan bill reintroduced by Reps. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) and Chip Roy (R-TX). The TRUST in Congress Act would prohibit members of Congress from trading individual stock while in office by requiring members to put their holdings in a qualified blind trust or divest.
Previously introduced in the 117th and 116th Congresses, the TRUST in Congress Act would help restore public trust in government by ensuring that members of Congress are acting in the public’s best interest, not their own personal financial concerns.
As we see under the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act (STOCK Act), transparency alone is not enough to stop members of Congress from trading stock based on nonpublic information. Passed in 2012, the STOCK Act requires members of Congress to report stock trades within 45 days of the transaction. However, members routinely ignore the STOCK Act’s reporting requirements with little to no penalty, and the increased transparency has only exposed the extent to which lawmakers’ stock trading creates clear conflicts of interest.
The majority of Americans, across the ideological spectrum, agree that members of Congress should not be allowed to trade stock given the clear conflict of interest congressional stock trading creates. This concern is not just hypothetical; there have been multiple instances of members of Congress trading stock based on nonpublic information in the last few years.
Qualified blind trusts are integral for reducing conflicts of interest, as the member’s stock holdings will be controlled by an independent trustee who will trade the stocks in the trust without the lawmaker’s knowledge or direction.
Importantly, the TRUST in Congress Act would also prohibit lawmaker’s spouses and dependent children from trading stock. By doing so, the TRUST in Congress Act reduces the significant risk that spouses and dependents can be used as conduits for insider trading or creating conflicts of interest through stock trading.
To restore public trust in government and ensure that members of Congress are focused on the public’s needs, not their own personal wealth, CLC endorses the TRUST in Congress Act and calls on Congress to pass this bill into law.