- A new poll shows that 70% of voters still support banning members of Congress from trading stocks.
- One pro-democracy group says it’s their “most popular campaign of the year,” generating nearly 100,000 emails.
- But lawmakers are still working out the details for a potential ban, leading to frustration on Capitol Hill.
More than 7 in 10 likely voters believe members of Congress should not be allowed to buy or sell individual stocks while in office, according to new poll shared with Insider.
The Data for Progress poll indicates that 70% of respondents want new federal legislation to ban the practice, while 68% said such a ban should extend to lawmakers’ spouses.
And 49% of respondents said they were more likely to support a candidate who backs a stock trading ban, including 50% of Republicans and 45% of Democrats.
“It’s not just about level of support, but it’s about an enthusiasm that people have for this issue,” said Brett Edkins, the managing director for policy and political affairs at Stand Up America, a left-of-center governmental reform nonprofit that commissioned the poll. “Very little unifies the American public these days, but widespread national outrage at public corruption … comes close.”
Insider has found that 64 members of Congress have violated the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act, which requires timely disclosure of stock transactions. Insider’s “Conflicted Congress” project also shed light on a number of conflicts of interest that lawmakers face by virtue of their financial holdings.
When Insider asked Pelosi whether she supported banning the practice, she initially rejected the idea. That led to a wave of new legislation from lawmakers eager to tackle the issue. She has since offered muted support for legislative changes.
Stand Up America has helped rally grassroots support for a potential stock trading ban alongside the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, MoveOn, and Public Citizen, among other political groups and reform organizations.
“It’s an issue of democracy and fairness, and whether our representatives are working for us, or for their bank accounts,” Edkins said. “Stand Up America has been working on democracy issues for years now, and we consistently find that corruption resonates with people”
Since January, Edkins says Stand Up America has directly nearly 100,000 emails and more than 1,400 calls to members of Congress, as well as nearly 2,000 letters to the editor in local papers. That makes the group’s campaign in support of a stock trading ban their “most popular campaign of the year,” even surpassing other campaigns in support of voting rights and removing the Senate filibuster.
“I think a lot of those issues of structural democracy are more difficult to understand,” said Edkins. “You know, the filibuster is very procedural. But this is a very cut-and-dry issue.”
The poll, conducted from June 8 to 13, included 1,198 likely voters and had a margin of error of 3 percentage points.
Meanwhile, efforts to enact a stock trading ban on Capitol Hill remain stalled, leading to frustration among those most enthusiastic about a ban.
In the House, stock-ban proponents are waiting to see whether the Committee on House Administration will release a framework they consider strong enough to address the problem. A group of senators, meanwhile, continue to work among themselves to reach consensus on a bill that can garner the entire Democratic caucus’s support.