By failing to properly disclose over 700 stock trades in the past year, Rep. Diana Harshbarger of Tennessee joins a growing, bipartisan list of elected officials showcasing how the current ethics enforcement system in Congress is simply not working.
Built on a foundation of self-policing in which members of Congress are responsible for enforcing their own ethics rules for their own colleagues, this system has led to a situation in which repercussions for unethical behavior are both rare and inadequate.
Repeated violations of the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act are just one example.
Harshbarger is the latest member of Congress to violate the STOCK Act. In a periodic transaction report filed earlier this week, she acknowledged the over 700 trades that violate the STOCK Act due to the fact that they were not disclosed within the proper window of time.
While her whopping number of trades is eye-catching, Rep. Harshbarger is hardly unique when it comes to this violation. Over the past five months, CLC has filed complaints related to STOCK Act violations by Sens. Rand Paul and Tommy Tuberville as well as Reps. Pat Fallon, Blake Moore and Tom Malinowski.
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.
As elected officials craft laws that directly impact the lives of all Americans, voters need to be able to trust that their representatives are acting in the public’s interest, and not for their own financial gain.
Timely reporting of transactions, as dictated by the STOCK Act, is the only way to ensure that members are serving the people before their own wallets.