IN THE NEWS: Momentum Building for Sen. Kelly’s Proposals to Bring Accountability to Washington

Arizona Senator Mark Kelly’s bills to root out corruption and increase transparency in Washington are in the news and gaining momentum. Alongside Senator Jon Ossoff (D-GA), Kelly introduced the Ban Congressional Stock Trading Acta bill that would require all members of Congress, their spouses, and dependent children to place their stock portfolios into a blind trust — ensuring they cannot use inside information to influence their personal stock trades and make a profit. This bill is gaining bipartisan support and the endorsement of major editorial boards. 

The two also introduced the Ban Corporate PACs Acta bill to reduce corporate influence in Washington by prohibiting for-profit corporations from influencing political campaigns and federal elections.   

Kelly is the only member of Congress to take the following three transparency and accountability steps: place his assets in Qualified Blind Trusts, release his official Senate schedule and not take Corporate PAC contributions to his campaign. According to Insider, Kelly and Ossoff are two of only 10 sitting members of Congress to put their own stock portfolios in blind trusts.   

See news highlights below: 

Yahoo! Finance: Sen. Kelly: The insider trading happening in Congress is ‘not right’ 

Sen. Mark Kelly of Arizona joined with fellow Democratic Senator Jon Ossoff of Georgia last week to lay down a marker on when their colleagues on Capitol Hill should be able to trade stocks. Never, they say. 

The two Senators proposed the most aggressive option so far to ban stock trading not just by lawmakers but also by members of their immediate family: the Ban Congressional Stock Trading Act, which would confiscate a lawmaker’s entire salary if they break the rules.  

In an interview with Yahoo Finance this week, the Arizona senator said the issue of stock trading, to his mind, is one part of being “more transparent with the American people.”  

“We see a lot of information that the general public does not have access to,” Kelly says. “And it’s not right for individuals to be elected to Congress and then be able to trade on that information.” 

Washington Post: Editorial Board: Members of Congress should not be allowed to trade individual stocks 

Americans don’t need a degree in law or finance to understand that there’s something fishy about members of Congress being allowed to trade individual stocks. 

Senators and representatives receive a substantial amount of information that the public does not, including details about how U.S. companies operate and how the government scrutinizes businesses. The fact that so much congressional stock trading goes on — with thousands of stocks traded each year by members of both parties — raises legitimate questions about whether lawmakers are using their access to that information to enrich themselves, rather than to serve the public. […]   

There’s a simple solution to restore trust: Ban trading of individual stocks by members of Congress, something that is gaining bipartisan support on Capitol Hill. […] 

On the other side of the Capitol, there is also new momentum to make this ban a reality. Sens. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) and Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) just introduced a bill similar to the House measure. 

Axios: First look: Senators propose bill to ban corporate PACs 

Sens. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) and Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) will soon propose a bill prohibiting for-profit corporations from establishing and managing political action committees, according to a copy of the legislation obtained by Axios. […]  

Business Insider: 27 House members sign letter asking Nancy Pelosi and Kevin McCarthy to bring stock-trading ban to the floor: ‘We came to Congress to serve our country, not turn a quick buck’  

The Wall Street Journal: Some Lawmakers Push to Ban Stock Trading by Colleagues 

Federal judges and central bank officials have faced stepped-up scrutiny over stock trades, due to concerns about possible conflicts of interest or access to nonpublic information. Now, the spotlight is turning to Congress. 

Last week, Democratic Sens. Mark Kelly of Arizona and Jon Ossoff of Georgia introduced legislation that would prohibit all members of Congress, their spouses and dependent children from trading individual stocks and would require them to place their stock portfolios into a blind trust. Both of the freshman senators have put their holdings in such a vehicle, where control over their trades is given to a trustee. 

“There’s a lot of influence that people have and access to a lot of information, and there should be a lot of responsibility that goes with that,” Mr. Kelly said of members of Congress.   

Currently, lawmakers must publicly file and disclose any financial transaction involving stocks, bonds, commodities futures and other securities within 45 days. But many lawmakers and

activists are pushing for tighter rules, with some liberal and conservative groups finding common cause on the issue. […] 

Boston Globe: Editorial Board: Members of Congress shouldn’t be trading stocks  

Restoring faith in government is an enormous task. Here’s a good way to start: Erect some basic barriers to crookery in Congress. 

Lawmakers are privy to all sorts of information that can move financial markets. And they have enormous sway over the economy. And yet, they are still allowed to trade individual stocks. 

That makes it far too easy for members to abuse their power for their own enrichment — or, almost as bad, to leave the impression that they are doing so. 

New legislation from Democratic Senators Jon Ossoff of Georgia and Mark Kelly of Arizona would put an end to that, requiring members of Congress, their spouses, and their dependent children to divest securities and certain other investments or move them into blind trusts. Vanilla investments like diversified mutual funds and treasury bills would not be affected. […] 

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