By Tom Ozimek
Long-anticipated legislation that would ban lawmakers and other senior government officials from trading stocks got a boost on Thursday, as House Democrats released a legislative framework that seeks to close loopholes, cut conflicts of interest, and make penalties for non-compliance more painful.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), chair of the Committee on House Administration tasked with reviewing deficiencies in the current financial disclosure system, outlined the framework in a Sept. 22 letter to Democrat colleagues.
“Following that review, I believe that a meaningful and effective plan to combat financial conflicts of interest could help restore the public’s faith and trust that our public servants act in the public interest,” Lofgren wrote.
‘Are Our Public Officials Acting in the Public Interest?’
Pressure has been building for some time to reform the current financial disclosure system after media scrutiny of potential conflicts of interest in trading by U.S. government officials and their families. A recent analysis found that nearly a fifth of Members of Congress or their family members bought or sold financial assets over a three-year span that showed possible conflict of interest.
“These stories undermine the American people’s faith and trust in the integrity of public officials and our federal government. Members of the public may ask, are our public officials acting in the public interest or their private financial interest?” Lofgren wrote.
The new framework, titled “Combatting Financial Conflicts of Interest and Restoring Public Faith and Trust in Government,” would entail reforming the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act, or STOCK Act, which was passed in 2012 and allows lawmakers to trade stocks but requires them to disclose such transactions.
One problem with the current disclosure system is paper-based filing that has, at times, seen forms that are practically illegible. The framework addresses that by proposing that all individuals subject to the disclosure requirements file electronically.
The framework also seeks to require officials to provide more detail in the disclosure forms. Current law allows lawmakers to disclose values of trades in broad ranges, such as $1 million to $5 million. Under the new proposal, they would have to provide “more granularity” by providing a rounded value for high-value assets, transactions, and liabilities.
The proposal also seeks to close a loophole that lets spouses or dependents of officials report high-value assets as “worth more than $1 million” and force them to provide more granular detail.
SCOTUS Included in Stock Ban
Notably, the framework also casts the net more widely to include Supreme Court justices under the restrictions, alongside members of Congress and other senior government officials, as well as their spouses and dependent children.
Under the framework, government officials and Supreme Court justices, as well as their spouses and dependent children, would be prohibited from trading stocks or holding investments in securities, commodities, futures, and cryptocurrencies.
Both incoming and current officials would be required to divest such holdings or put them in blind trusts.
At the same time, officials would be allowed to invest in holdings that don’t present the same potential for conflicts of interest, like diversified mutual funds, exchange-traded funds, and U.S. government securities.
The framework also seeks to impose more painful penalties for violations, which under the STOCK Act are a paltry $200 for every 30-day period of non-compliance.
The new proposal seeks to raise the penalty to $1,000, while calling for greater transparency around enforcement by requiring supervising ethics offices to publicly disclose information about compliance by filers.
Lofgren said the legislative text that is built on the proposed framework would be introduced “soon.”
The House Press Gallery’s Twitter account said in a statement that the proposed legislation could be considered in the House as early as next week.
Affiliate News Feeds
- Washington Examiner
- The Federalist
- The Epoch Times
- The Guardian
- The Gateway Pundit
- Judicial Watch
By Marina Zhang Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that vaccinated and boosted people made up most of the COVID-19 deaths in August. Of the… [...]
By Petr Svab Officials from the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security frequently met with major social media companies ahead of the 2020 election and pointed out users and… [...]
By Jack Phillips The campaign of Arizona Republican candidate Kari Lake responded to a district court imposing a fine on her lawyers after filing an election-related lawsuit earlier this year.… [...]
Union workers are lashing out at both political parties and President Joe Biden for the rail legislation signed to prevent a strike, calling the provisions a "slap in the face"… [...]
A former professor at the University of California San Diego said she gave all of her students "A" grades and no homework in a recently unearthed video. [...]
A key Senate vote over whether to provide paid sick leave for rail workers is highlighting a divide within the GOP, a party that has increasingly tried to position itself… [...]
Usually when a person defrauds investors of millions of dollars and launders the funds to personal pet projects, he goes to jail. (See: Bernie Madoff.) But in FTX founder Sam… [...]
Insider documents released on Friday confirm Twitter’s decision to suppress the New York Post’s legitimate reporting about Hunter Biden’s laptop mere weeks before the 2020 presidential election was a political… [...]
It would be easy to laugh in the faces of the ADL people but it's not a joke. Putting out these junk studies has real consequences. [...]
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Sunday said the European Union must act to address “distortions” created by the Biden administration’s Inflation Reduction Act (IRA)—part of Biden’s “Made… [...]
Seniors have been severely affected by inflation. Most had to cut back on spending and many needed to take “drastic” measures, such as skipping meals, according to a recent survey.… [...]
SIMI VALLEY, Calif.—The United States is at a pivotal point with China and will need military strength to ensure that American values, not Beijing’s, set global norms in the 21st… [...]
Initiative is part of measures agreed between London’s mayor Sadiq Khan and the police force Police officers in schools are to be monitored to see if they are disproportionately targeting… [...]
Exclusive: economic inactivity due to sickness at highest level since records began, with north, Wales and Northern Ireland disproportionately affectedPeople in the UK are getting “sicker and poorer”, with a… [...]
From first to last, the drum beats were relentless from the small section of Senegal supporters. They pounded in the temples of everybody present, creating an oppressive backdrop to this… [...]
Hillsborough, North Carolina – An elderly Home Depot worker died from his injuries a couple months after he was violently shoved to the ground by a thief. Gary Rasor, 83,… [...]
Twitter continues to censor tweets by Kari Lake and other Trump-Endorsed candidates in Arizona for exposing Katie Hobbs and corruption in Arizona’s elections and the courts. The Gateway Pundit reported… [...]
Joe and Dr. Jill hosted a White House reception ahead of the Kennedy Center Honors show in the East Room. Jill Biden wore another ghastly dress Sunday evening at a… [...]
From Fox News: The Secret Service will not say why they changed their position regarding a government watchdog’s records request into Hunter Biden’s gun investigation records. Government watchdog Judicial Watch… [...]
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that the United States Secret Service has repeatedly changed its position about whether it is in possession of records related to the investigation… [...]