Embattled Democrats Reps. Cindy Axne (D-IA) and Elaine Luria (D-VA) are fighting to preserve their ability to trade stocks as seated members of Congress.
The two members have both reportedly traded extensively in the stock market since assuming office. While on the Financial Services Committee, Axne has illegally failed to disclose up to $645,000 in trades. Undercover through family connections, Axne’s husband also reportedly engaged in buying and selling shares of companies Cindy Axne directly oversees, like Global Payments, Inc., Visa, and Mastercard.
Luria’s husband, meanwhile, has traded hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of Tesla and Alibaba stock while Elaine Luria is a member of Homeland Security and Foreign affairs Committees. Elaine Luria’s husband also trades millions of dollars worth of publicly traded stocks, such as Facebook, Netflix, and NVIDIA, a multinational technology company. He also owns QuantumScape and Tesla stock.
Luria was questioned by Punchbowl News why she opposed a ban on stock trading:
Max: “I saw Speaker Pelosi is publicly, is going to back a ban on stock trading among members. I was curious what your thoughts were on this?”
Luria: “So my thoughts on it, you know, I think this whole concept is bullshit. Because I think that, why would you assume that members of Congress are going to be inherently bad or corrupt? We already have the STOCK Act that requires people to report stock trades. Why would you assume – I mean, the people that you’re electing to represent you, it makes no sense that you’re going to automatically assume that they’re going to use their position for some nefarious means or to benefit themselves. So I’m very strongly opposed to any legislation like that.”
Luria’s answer of “bullshit” was slammed by the Congressional Leadership Fund press secretary Cally Perkins. “Like so many on the left, Elaine Luria has one set of rules for politicians like herself and another for everyone else,” she said. “Luria refuses to ban insider trading for Members of Congress, so that she can continue lining her pockets.”
National Republican Congressional Committee’s Spokesman Mike Berg also sounded off against Axne’s hypocritical position on stock trading. “Cindy Axne is in Congress to help her bank account, not her constituents. Axne is too crooked to represent Iowa,” he said.
The two Democrats’ opposition to banning congressional stock trades comes as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has supported the measure with a caveat: the judiciary branch should also be banned from trading stocks.
Pelosi’s comments follow a pivot in opposing stock trading. In December, Pelosi defended congressional stock trading as participation in a “free market economy.” Soon after her defense, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) slammed Pelosi’s stock trading activity that allegedly sways her legislative judgment. Pelosi and her husband raked in $4.8 million dollars on tech options in July, though the speaker denies she owns any of the stocks.
A ban on lawmakers from trading stocks is very popular among Americans. Seventy-six percent of voters believe lawmakers and their spouses have an “unfair advantage” trading stocks. The Washington Post’s editorial board endorsed banning congressional members from trading individual stocks. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy(R-CA) is reportedly weighing banning stocks if he gains the gavel in November.
Large amounts of stocks are traded by lawmakers that are privy to information that average Americans are not, according to UnusualWhales.com:
Congress bought and sold nearly $290 million in stocks (corresponding to 3,500+ transactions by 105 members of Congress), $140 million in options contracts (270+ transactions by 6 members), $124 million in other securities like private equity funds (200+ transactions by 19 members), and $500k in cryptocurrencies (25 transactions by 6 members). 430 members did not take a trade in 2021.
I have just released the full trading report on politicians in 2021.
In short, many beat the market.
They traded more than ever before.
And they made numerous unusually timed trades, resulting in huge gains.
— unusual_whales (@unusual_whales) January 10, 2022