Taking STOCK in politicians regaining voters' trust - Albuquerque Journal

Taking STOCK in politicians regaining voters’ trust

Quick, name some national politicians you trust. What’s that you say? You’re struggling to think of any trustworthy politicians in Washington? You are not alone.

Pew Research reports 80% of us say we do not trust the federal government to do what’s right “always or most of the time.” And 81% of us think members of Congress act unethically “all or some of the time.”

I came to realize one way Congress could polish up its tarnished reputations after reading an editorial in the New Republic. Simply put, members of the U.S. Congress should stop playing the stock market. That’s right, either get out of the market altogether or set up tamper-proof blind trusts.

Through their committee assignments members of Congress are exposed to mountains of insider knowledge, classified documents and secret information gleaned while questioning expert witnesses, sometimes behind closed doors.

Even though there is a law to guard against members’ illegal insider trading – it’s called the STOCK Act, short for “Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act of 2012” – dubious, perhaps criminal, investing still occurs.

How can that be? Because members can simply claim they made questionable stock trades on “publicly available information” and not on information they got during classified briefings. It is mighty tough to prove the lawmaker is lying.

The STOCK Act requires members to post all their family’s stock market transactions, but Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, recently failed to properly disclose a $50,000 stock purchase made by her husband. This wasn’t the first time Feinstein was in the hot seat about fortuitous family stock transactions, one of which reportedly involved as much as $6 million worth of biotechnology stock dumped right before the pandemic-driven market crash. The FBI investigated the senator, but no charges were filed.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, followed the law and recently disclosed that her investor husband bought up to $1 million in Tesla stock just weeks before President Biden announced he intends to replace the entire government fleet with electric cars. The eyebrow-raising transaction gives Pelosi an obvious financial interest in Tesla at a time when she will play a lead role in passing green initiatives that will surely help the electric car maker. Mr. Pelosi also bought options on Apple stock worth up to $500,000 at a time when Congress is talking about tough restrictions on Big Tech. But Speaker Pelosi reported all this, so everything is hunky-dory.

To be clear, this is not just a Democrat problem. Besides Feinstein, the FBI also investigated suspicions of insider trading against three Republican senators, Kelly Loeffler of Georgia, James Inhofe of Oklahoma and Richard Burr of North Carolina. The Loeffler and Inhofe investigations were quickly dropped. Not so with Burr, chairman of the powerful Intelligence Committee.

At a time last February when Burr was getting classified COVID-19 briefings, which warned of economic catastrophe, he sold stocks worth as much as $1.7 million. The FBI investigated but ultimately could not disprove Burr’s contention he traded only on information he gathered from public sources.

It is widely believed Sen. David Perdue, R-Georgia, lost his recent re-election bid due, in part, to charges of insider trading. The FBI and SEC investigated a series of suspicious and highly lucrative stock trades in Perdue’s accounts. The senator insisted brokers made the transactions without his knowledge. The investigations were ultimately dropped.

See a trend here?

When members of Congress make laws that govern the behavior of members of Congress, you can bet those laws will have built-in loopholes. Adherence to the true spirit of the STOCK Act would be a great first step for members who want to earn back public trust.

They could also concentrate on helping Americans who want COVID-19 vaccinations and those suffering from the pandemic’s profound economic fallout. They could make sure all schools and universities open, come to a bipartisan immigration policy and create an equitable energy strategy that doesn’t cost thousands of Americans their jobs. Oh, and they could stop the blistering partisan attacks and work on that unity thing.

The list of what politicians could do goes on and on. The question is: will they stop fighting long enough to repair their reputations and help Americans during this trying time?

www.DianeDimond.com; email to Diane@DianeDimond.com.


Home » Opinion » Columnists » Taking STOCK in politicians regaining voters’ trust

Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

Jemez Pueblo native starts a business focused on healthy ...
I'm not a vegetarian, much less ... I'm not a vegetarian, much less a vegan, so talking about food in those terms is a bit like le ...
GivingTuesday: Every act of generosity counts
GivingTuesday is a global movement unleashing ... GivingTuesday is a global movement unleashing the power of radical generosity. GivingTuesday was cre ...
Using third-party hotel booking sites can cost you
Book directly with a hotel to ... Book directly with a hotel to avoid possibility of getting charged twice
Journal Cartoonist John Trever's recent work
John Trever tackles Albuquerque and New ... John Trever tackles Albuquerque and New Mexico issues with his signature cartoons this and every Sunday.
Credibility is 'our currency. That's really all we have.'
The Albuquerque Journal's freelance policy, last ... The Albuquerque Journal's freelance policy, last updated and distributed to all newsroom staff ...
'Voice of the Journal' for decades had a passion ...
ABQnews Seeker
Ex-columnist also had a knack of ... Ex-columnist also had a knack of making his readers laugh
Donate items to get them a new life rather ...
Are you downsizing? Children moved out? ... Are you downsizing? Children moved out? Parents moving to other living arrangements? Or are you just ...
FBI fights cyberattacks, ransomware scams
New Mexico generally follows nationwide trends ... New Mexico generally follows nationwide trends when it comes to destructive ransomware attacks, but ...
Hispanic Heritage fills up a New Mexico year
Our minority-majority state overflows with contributions ... Our minority-majority state overflows with contributions from 'invisible' ethnicity