Friday, January 21, 2022

POLL: 67% of Americans Support Bill to Ban Stock Trading by Members of Congress, Pelosi Resists

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is resisting an outright ban, but is asking a House panel to consider higher fines for STOCK Act violators. Alex Wong/Getty Images

Source: Business Insider

Published: January 18, 2022

By: Bryan Metzger 

  • Data for Progress found that 67% of voters support banning lawmakers from trading stocks.
  • That figure jumped to 74% when voters were given reasons for and against a ban.
  • But Pelosi continues to resist a ban, opting to consider raising penalties for STOCK Act violations.

A poll has found a sweeping majority of voters in favor of banning members of Congress from trading stocks, adding to arguments in favor of regulating lawmaker's trades after an Insider investigation.

According to new polling conducted by the progressive firm Data for Progress, 67% of voters support such a ban, a figure that increases to 74% when respondents are given arguments in favor and against the idea.

Asked if they would support or oppose a bill that would ban members of Congress and their senior congressional staff from buying and selling individual stocks, 43% of voters said they strongly supported a ban, while another 24% were somewhat supportive.

Respondents were then given arguments in favor of such a ban — including lawmakers' access to non-public information and the need to instill public trust — as well as against, including that such a ban could impact retirement accounts and is unnecessary as most lawmakers follow rules around trading. Support then jumped to 74%, while just 19% said they would oppose such a bill.

The poll, conducted from January 12 to 15, including 1,266 likely voters and had a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

That polling is largely consistent with a survey the group previously conducted in March, as well as recent polling from the conservative group Convention of States Action and the Campaign Legal Center.

Several proposals to ban stock trading have emerged in the last week, including a bill sponsored by Democratic Sens. Jon Ossoff of Georgia and Mark Kelly of Arizona that would require lawmakers to place individual stocks into a blind trust. Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri introduced a competing proposal on the same day, and other proposals, including one put forth by Democratic Rep. Angie Craig of Minnesota would ban holding stock entirely.

On Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi asked the Committee on House Administration to consider harsher penalties for members and senior staff who violate the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act (STOCK Act), along with a review of potential violations by members. "The speaker believes that sunlight is the best disinfectant and has asked Committee on House Administration Chair Zoe Lofgren to examine the issue of Members' unacceptable noncompliance with the reporting requirements in the STOCK Act," said spokesman Drew Hammill.

That came after Insider's Conflicted Congress investigation found dozens of lawmakers and 182 senior congressional staff had violated the law, which requires timely disclosure of stock purchases in order to counteract insider trading.

Asked about Insider's project, Pelosi affirmed that members of Congress should report in a timely manner, but was dismissive of a broader stock trading ban. "We are a free-market economy. They should be able to participate in that," she said.

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