December 13, 2021 – As the pandemic rages, lawmakers buy and sell stock in companies that make COVID-19 vaccines, treatments, and tests

In Email/Dossier/Govt Corruption Investigations, Featured Timeline Entries by Katie Weddington

Business Insider graphic (Credit: Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty; Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call; Marie Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call; Skye Gould/Insider)

(…) At a time when millions of Americans are struggling financially, members of Congress have traded extraordinarily well during the pandemic. This juxtaposition has led directly to the public sentiment that the trading activity of Congress must be curbed. The problem lies in the fact that members of Congress typically possess information that the public does not. The pandemic highlighted this issue, as Congress was briefed on the risks of COVID-19 before the public and before the March 2020 market crash.

Lawmakers were likely aware of the FDA’s approval of the COVID-19 vaccine before the news broke to the public. Approximately 93 senators and representatives held stock in Johnson and Johnson and Pfizer stock once the pandemic broke out in March 2020. Several spouses of these lawmakers held stock in Moderna in 2020 as well and traded thousands of dollars worth of company stock throughout the pandemic. Moderna and Pfizer stocks typically tended to fluctuate throughout the pandemic, but when talk of vaccine approval began, these stocks rose exponentially. In January 2020, Moderna stock sold for roughly $20 a share; in September 2021, the stock hit $455.

In March of 2020, the Department of Justice launched an investigation into the trading activity of Senators Richard Burr, and Kelly Loeffler, among others. While those investigations are now closed, and no charges were initiated against any lawmaker, the issues raised are troubling, to say the least. For example, Senator Burr and his wife traded between $628,000 and $1.7 million worth of stock in thirty-three transactions while at the same time stating to the public that the government had the coronavirus pandemic under control. At a minimum, signaling to the public that all is well while trading on the information in his possession raises ethical issues.

Ending Trading for Congress

Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi (whose stock trading, along with her husband, has come under scrutiny), initially opposed (I know, shocking) a stock trading ban, citing that the market is a “free market economy” and lawmakers “should be able to participate,” in trading on the market. She has since reversed her position on the issue — it appears that public sentiment is putting pressure on the hypocrisy of Congress to act on a long overdue issue.

While the Ethics Reform Act continues to collect dust, only time will tell if we see a long overdue change to the status quo, which has allowed members of Congress to enrich themselves while simultaneously undermining the trust of the American people. (Read more: Warren Law, 8/23/2024)  (Archive)

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