Members of Congress failing to report their stock trades in a timely manner as required by the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act has become a widespread problem, undermining voters’ right to know whether their representatives are acting in the public’s interest or for their own financial gain.
Following a review of recent disclosures, Campaign Legal Center has filed complaints with the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) against seven more members of Congress — Reps. Cindy Axne (D-IA), Warren Davidson (R-OH), Lance Gooden (R-TX), Bobby Scott (D-VA), Thomas Suozzi (D-NY), Roger Williams (R-TX) and Del. Michael San Nicholas (D-GU) — for violations of the STOCK Act.
Under this law, members of Congress must disclose a stock trade within 45 days of the trade with no exceptions. These members failed to disclose their trades even though all members of Congress and their staff receive mandatory STOCK Act training.
While previous CLC complaints have addressed members who delayed disclosure beyond the mandated window or filed disclosures in an improper manner, these seven members have conducted significant stock trading activity that has not been disclosed at all. CLC’s complaints specifically allege that:
Axne failed to disclose a number of stock transactions in 2019 and 2020, for a total value between $43,043 and $645,000. She didn’t report any stock trades either year.
Davidson failed to disclose the sale of Workhorse Group stock worth between $50,000 and $100,000 in 2020.
Gooden failed to disclose transactions in 12 different stocks valued between $60,019 and $376,000 in 2020. This included stock in American Airlines, APA Corporation, Royal Caribbean Cruises, Delta, Hertz, Luckin Coffee, Marathon Oil, Occidental, Ovintiv, Plains All American Pipeline, Sotherly Hotels and United American Holdings.
Scott failed to disclose purchases of several stocks worth $1,001 and $15,000 in 2020. This included stock in Air Products and Chemicals, Inc., Carlisle Companies Incorporated, Linde plc and RPM International Inc.
Suozzi failed to disclose over 300 transactions worth between $3.2 million and $11 million between his 2017 and 2020 financial disclosures.
Williams failed to disclose three stock transactions in 2019: a sale of General Electric, a sale of Nvidia and a sale of Walt Disney Company on, all worth between $1,001 and $15,000.
San Nicholas failed to disclose the sale of Livent stock in 2020 worth $2,370 and sale of call option in Yamana Gold, valued between $15,000 and $50,000 in 2019.
The actions of these House members demonstrate a widespread, systemic issue in Congress that crosses ideological and geographic lines. This ongoing trend of STOCK Act violations shows that merely the threat of a nominal fine is not deterring members of Congress from breaking the law.
The fact is that members are not being held accountable for financial transactions that could very reasonably arouse conflict of interest concerns. Of particular concern with this group is the fact that five of these seven members — Axne, Davidson, Gooden, Williams and San Nicholas — sit on the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services.
So far in 2021, CLC has filed STOCK Act violation complaints with congressional ethics offices against 13 members.
The lack of accountability we have seen with regard to STOCK Act compliance is basically giving elected officials the green light to buy and sell stocks based on information gained from committee meetings without any transparency for their voters.
Until we see meaningful enforcement paired with real transparency, this troubling trend is likely to continue.
As members of Congress craft laws that directly impact the lives of all Americans, voters have a right to know whether members are working in the public’s best interest or using their position of power to further their own private interests.
When elected officials prioritize gaining personal wealth, they are not only hurting their own accountability, but they are diminishing public trust in government.