Lofgren signals stock trading ban will include Supreme Court justices

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-California) signaled in a letter to her colleagues that legislation barring congressional lawmakers from stock trading will include Supreme Court justices.

Lofgren, the chairman of the House Administration Committee, outlined a framework to “address financial conflicts of interest and restore public faith and trust in government” in Thursday’s letter, with the first installment regarding a stock trading ban for “senior government officials”. their spouses and dependent children.

This group of officials, according to Lofgren, includes members of Congress and the Supreme Court.

If enacted, persons subject to the prohibition will be prohibited from investing in securities, commodities, futures, cryptocurrencies and other similar investments and from short selling shares. Investments in diversified mutual funds, exchange-traded funds, widely held investment funds, and US or state and local government treasury bills, notes, or bonds would, however, be permitted.

Public servants would have the choice of selling their stakes or placing them in a qualified blind trust.

Lofgren’s executive comes as the House prepares to consider a stock trading ban by lawmakers next week, following months of deliberations on the matter. But it was unclear whether Supreme Court justices would be included in the ban.

The push for such a ban won supporters on Capitol Hill after reports surfaced that members violated laws meant to prevent financial conflicts of interest.

Earlier this month, The New York Times published a detailed report that found nearly 100 lawmakers or their family members have made financial transactions in the past three years that may be conflicts of interest.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) backed a ban on lawmaker actions in February, a reversal of her previous opposition to the push, while tossing around the idea of ​​including the judiciary in any reforms to lawmakers. financial reporting requirements.

Under current law, Supreme Court justices are allowed to trade in stocks, which some say could pose a conflict of interest.

Lofgren in Thursday’s letter said she would introduce legislation reflecting her four-point framework.

“A number of bills that have been tabled to date address some of these issues and include thoughtful proposals, but no bill addresses each of these four elements in this level of detail. I will soon introduce legislative text for a bill based on this reform framework,” the California Democrat wrote.

“Many MPs have already concluded that reforms are needed. I agree,” she added.

Lofgren’s framework also calls for increasing the “granularity” of financial information by asking for more specific information. This would further require electronic filing of all financial disclosure documents from all three branches of government.

Third, the framework would increase penalties for non-compliance with financial disclosure requirements and implement additional fines that would be tied to the sum of assets or transactions that violate the rules.

The fourth principle of the framework aims to increase accountability and public awareness. The measure would require compliance information to be made public and order the Justice Department to submit an annual report to Congress outlining criminal and civil lawsuits against violators.

Pelosi told reporters last week that a ban on stock trading by lawmakers could be lifted this month. The House is due to leave Washington next week and is not expected to return until after November’s midterm elections.

In the House on Thursday, top lawmakers said the House could consider legislation to reform the STOCK Act next week. This 2012 law, an acronym for the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act, prohibited employees and members of Congress from using information received in the course of their work for personal gain.

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