Rep. Michael Burgess, a Republican of Texas, smiles and gestures while greeting America's Health Insurance Plans President and CEO Karen Ignagni during a policy meeting on Capitol Hill.
Then-Congressional Health Care Caucus Chairman GOP Rep. Michael Burgess of Texas (left) talks with America's Health Insurance Plans President and CEO Karen Ignagni after a forum held on Capitol Hill on October 26, 2009 in Washington, DC.Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
  • Two Texas Republicans and a Pennsylvania Democrat have violated a federal conflicts-of-interest law.
  • The combined trades include up to $180,000 worth of stock in financial, healthcare, and energy firms.
  • In 2021, at least 54 members of Congress ran afoul of the STOCK Act.

Two congressmen from Texas and one from Pennsylvania have joined more than four-dozen of their Capitol Hill colleagues in violating a federal law designed to combat financial conflicts-of-interest, according to an Insider analysis of congressional financial disclosure documents. 

The newest violators of the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act's disclosure provisions include Texas Republicans Pat Fallon and Michael Burgess, as well as Pennsylvania Democrat Dwight Evans.   

The new violations come as a growing number of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle  — from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican, to Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat — have responded to Insider's "Conflicted Congress" reporting project by recommending increased restrictions on how members of Congress may invest their own money. 

"Conflicted Congress" revealed the myriad ways members of the US House and Senate have eviscerated their own financial ethics standards, avoided consequences, and blinded Americans to the many moments when lawmakers' personal finances clash with their public duties.

Fallon, who was late reporting up to $18 million in stock trades earlier this year, dropped the ball again in late December. Federally required disclosure documents show that the freshman lawmaker was nearly two months late disclosing a purchase of up to $100,000 worth of stock in investment firm Owl Rock Capital Corp. — weeks past the 30-day deadline prescribed by the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act of 2012. 

Fallon's office did not respond to requests for comment.

Federally required disclosure documents show that Burgess, a 10-term lawmaker who serves on the influential House Energy and Commerce Committee, sold 100 shares of stock in health insurer Cigna Corp. on November 19 when it closed at $210.51 per share. The stock's price plummeted during the following several days before rebounding in December.

Burgess certified that he became aware of the trade on November 23, and by federal law, had until December 23 to publicly disclose the trade — but didn't do so until December 31.

Burgess is a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Health, which has jurisdiction over health insurance, among other matters. His office did not respond to requests for comment about the financial transactions. 

Federally required disclosure documents show that Evans sold up to $15,000 worth of stock in American Electric Power Co. Inc. on November 2. The four-term lawmaker didn't publicly disclose the trade until December 22, several days after a federally mandated deadline. Evans' office did not respond to requests for comment about the financial transactions. 

Burgess and Evans are the 53rd and 54th members of Congress, respectively, that Insider and other news organizations identified as failing to properly disclose their stock transactions throughout 2021 as mandated by the STOCK Act.

Dianne Feinstein
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat from California, is one of dozens of members of Congress to violate the disclosure provisions of the STOCK Act in recent months.Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times via AP, Pool

A growing number of STOCK Act violations 

The STOCK Act is designed to offer transparency about where members of Congress and their families are earning money outside of their congressional salaries and to reveal any potential conflicts of interest. 

Insider and other news organizations have now this year identified 54 members of Congress who have failed to properly report their financial trades as mandated by the STOCK Act. 

They include:

Some federal lawmakers voluntarily abstain from trading stocks. Others trade only in bonds, mutual funds, exchange-traded funds, and other garden-variety investments.

Members of Congress who want to formally disassociate themselves from their personal investments can ask their chamber's ethics committee to approve the creation of a qualified blind trust, although Insider found that only a handful have done so. 

Sen. Jon Ossoff, a Democrat from Georgia, is poised to introduce new legislation barring colleagues and their spouses from holding or trading individual stocks while they're in elective office — a stance that puts him in league on this issue with McCarthy and at odds with Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. 

Pelosi pushed back against banning sitting lawmakers from trading stocks last month when asked about the "Conflicted Congress" findings, though many in her party — and a burgeoning chunk of voters — disapprove of elected officials getting rich off insider information. 

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus and a potential Pelosi successor, would not commit to supporting stock trade-ban legislation when asked about it on January 11 by Insider.

"I support continuing to make sure that everyone complies with the law as it is right now," Jeffries said. "I'm unfamiliar with the legislation, it hasn't been presented to me, nobody has talked to me about it. And of course I'm open to having any conversations with any members."

Legislation titled the Ban Conflicted Trading Act, sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Jeff Merkley, a Democrat of Oregon, and in the House by Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, a Democrat of Illinois, would separately bar members of Congress from trading individual stocks.

According to a December survey conducted by the conservative group Convention of States Action, 76% of voters give a thumbs down to lawmakers and their spouses trading stocks — with the opinion that those individuals have garnered an "unfair advantage" in the stock market — while only 5% of voters were fine with the practice.

Read the original article on Business Insider