Rep. Pramila Jayapal wants to ban lawmakers from trading stocks – and will introduce a bill that does exactly that

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UNITED STATES - MARCH 3: Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., talks with reporters after a meeting of the House Democratic Caucus in the Capitol on Tuesday, March 3, 2020. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
Rep. Pramila Jayapal, a Washington Democrat, will again team with Sen. Elizabeth Warren in an effort to ban congressional lawmakers from buying and trading. individual stocks.

  • Jayapal’s vow follows a similar promise by Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
  • Rep. Scott Franklin recently sold up to $165 million in stock.
  • Sen. John Boozman cashed out of Johnson & Johnson, among other stocks.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Members of Congress routinely trade stocks, buying and selling the shares of companies that often have significant business before the federal government – and sometimes spend lots of money to lobby lawmakers.

Insider dug through congressional financial disclosure records federal lawmakers filed in recent days. Here are the latest highlights from what we’ve found.

Pramila Jayapal’s stock trade crusade


Rep. Pramila Jayapal, a Democrat from Washington state, will introduce a bill in the US House that in part would ban members of Congress, as well as other top federal officials, from buying and selling individual stocks, her office confirmed to Insider.

Jayapal’s confirmation comes days after Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat, told Insider that she would introduce legislation in the Senate that would do the same.

“They do not believe that members of Congress, Cabinet secretaries, federal judges, and other senior government officials should be able to own and trade stock,” Jayapal spokesman Chris Evans said in an email.

Both lawmakers also teamed up in late 2020 to introduce companion bills – styled the “Anti-Corruption and Public Integrity Act” – that targeted lawmakers’ stock trades and introduced various lobbying, ethics, and conflict-of-interest reforms. Both bills died in committee without even receiving votes.

Much, however, has changed in the months since. Stock trades by several members of Congress – from Republican Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina to Democratic Rep. Tom Malinowski of New Jersey – have come under significant scrutiny of late. And Democrats, who generally appear more eager this session than Republicans to advance government reform bills, control both chambers of Congress.

Democratic Reps. John Sarbanes of Maryland, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Janice Schakowsky of Illinois, Chuy Garcia of Illinois, and Mark Pocan of Wisconsin co-sponsored Jayapal’s stock trading bill last year. None of their offices responded Insider questions about whether they will again co-sponsor Jayapal’s bill.

A photo of Rep. Scott Franklin, a Republican from Florida, gazing upward while wearing a blue suit.
Rep. Scott Franklin, a Republican of Florida, just made some of the biggest stock moves of 2021 – at least among members of Congress.

Serious dough for Scott Franklin

Freshman Rep. Scott Franklin took care of some financial housekeeping last month that earned him a small fortune. According to his most recent disclosures, the Florida Republican and former insurance executive unloaded up to $165 million worth of shares in various companies on May 25.

The sell-off, which was conducted via joint accounts and personal retirement holdings (traditional IRA, Roth IRA), included: liquidating up to $10 million worth of shares in commercial drug maker Viatris Inc.; discarding between $26 million and $55 million worth of shares in financial services firm Discover; and shedding between $35 million and $100 million worth of stock in telecommunications hub AT&T Inc. (Members of Congress are only required to report the value of their stock transactions in broad ranges.)

John Boozman
Sen. John Boozman, a Republican of Arkansas.

John Boozman cashes out

Sen. John Boozman, a Republican representing Arkansas, reported selling numerous stock, mutual funds, and exchange traded fund assets on May 3.

Among the stock shares Boozman sold: Apple, Bank of America, Comcast, Walt Disney, banking giant JP Morgan Chase, computer chip maker Intel, computer products company HP, defense contractor General Dynamics, industrial products manufacturer Honeywell, and railroad company Union Pacific.

Boozman valued each sale between $1,001 and $15,000.

Boozman also sold up to $15,000 worth of shares in Johnson & Johnson, the pharmaceutical company that helped develop a one-shot COVID-19 vaccine actively in use domestically after a brief pause because of blood clot-related safety concerns.

Johnson & Johnson has also experienced vaccine production issues. And the Food and Drug Administration last week told the company to throw out 60 million COVID-19 vaccine doses because of contamination concerns at one plant where the vaccine is made.

elaine chao
Former Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, who is married to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, regularly trades stock in banking giant Wells Fargo.

Mitch McConnell fam makes bank

Elaine Chao, the former Trump administration transportation secretary and wife of Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, purchased up to $15,000 in Wells Fargo & Company stock on June 3, according to a congressional financial disclosure. The purchase was a dividend reinvestment.

Chao has a long history with the bank, having served on its board from 2011 to 2017. Last year, Wells Fargo agreed to pay $3 billion to settle federal criminal and civil investigations into its practice of opening customer accounts without their permission.

Meanwhile, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito‘s husband, Charlie Capito, sold up to $15,000 worth of shares in Wells Fargo on May 10. He also sold up to $15,000 in AT&T stock on May 25.

Energy stocks are hot

Rep. Mark Green, a Republican from Tennessee, made two stock purchases in motor fuel distributor CrossAmerica Partners. The first, on May 26, cost up to $250,000 and the second occurred May 27 and cost up to $500,000, on May 27.

In late May, Green also bought up to $250,000 shares in Energy Transfer and two purchases, totalling up to $600,000, in Shell Midstream Partners.

Rep. James Langevin, a Democrat of Rhode Island, made seven trades in May in Generac Holdings, an industrial company manufacturing generators. Each trade was between $1,001 and $15,000.

Keep rollin’, rollin’, rollin’

Congressional Bike Caucus co-chairman Earl Blumenauer isn’t opposed to other vehicles doing some heavy lifting for him.

The Oregon Democrat’s latest filings show that on May 28 his wife bought up to $15,000 worth of shares in AutoZone Inc. – the D-I-Y retailer that stocks replacement parts and accessories for those hoping to keep their gas-guzzling, smoke-belching rides on the road as long as possible.

“Part of my spouse’s retirement portfolio,” the filing reads.

Lock it up

Five-term conservative lawmaker Rep. Ann Wagner is doing her part to prop up infrastructure spending in Middle America.

The Missouri Republican’s latest filings show she purchased up to $50,000 worth of municipal bonds to bankroll a new judicial complex/local jail in Wisconsin. “The congresswoman and her husband have invested in interest-bearing bond sales around the country as a part of their diversified investment strategy recommended by their financial advisor,” Wagner spokesman Arthur Byrant told Insider about the recent acquisition.

Construction of the Trempealeau County Justice Center, which is projected to cost up to $40 million, is expected to stretch into 2023, reports La Crosse, Wisconsin-based WKBT-TV.

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