In an attempt to crack down on conflicts of interest throughout the government, House Democrats introduced on Tuesday the long-awaited bill that seeks to restrict stock ownership and trading by members of Congress, federal judges, Supreme Court justices, the president, and senior government officials.
Titled ‘Combatting Financial Conflicts of Interest in Government Act’, the bill would ban government officials, their spouses, and dependent children from trading or owning investments in securities, commodities, futures, cryptocurrency, or other digital assets.
If subject to the ban, individuals would be required to place their holdings into a qualified blind trust or divest them altogether.
The ban, however, does not cover investments in state or municipal government bills, notes or bonds, diversified mutual funds, US Treasury bills, and investment funds held as part of the retirement plan of the federal, state, or local government employee, among other types of widely held, diversified and publicly traded investment funds.
The chairwoman of the House Administration Committee, California Rep. Zoe Lofgren was directed to draft a bill in February by Speaker Nancy Pelosi amid reports that lawmakers have violated laws preventing conflicts of interests involving financial transactions.
An extensive report published this month by the New York Times showed that, in the past three years, at least 97 lawmakers or their family members traded financial assets that could be conflicts of interest.
Separate legislation to ban lawmaker stock trading prepared by a group of senators that was also introduced on Tuesday increases penalties for violating the provisions of the measure.
The attorney general will be granted authority by the measure to bring a civil action against individuals covered by the bill who knowingly and willfully make transactions that are in violation of the bill or hold prohibited investments.