Banning lawmakers from owning stocks would stymie war profiteering

Yesterday, a bipartisan group of lawmakers sent a letter to the chairs of the Committee on House Administration urging them to advance legislation banning members of Congress from directly owning or trading stocks while in office.

The letter, sent by 19 lawmakers ranging from Mark Pocan (D-WI) to Matt Gaetz (R-FL) outlined three key provisions: preventing family members and children from owning stock, banning exceptions for stock owned prior to entering office, and backing up any legislation with effective enforcement. 

Congressional stock trading restrictions would disproportionately impact the national security space; A Sludge 2021 analysis of financial holdings found that “The maximum value of the investments held by federal lawmakers in the ‘Big Five’ contractors — Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, and General Dynamics — is over $2.6 million, making up nearly 39% of the total stock holdings identified.” 

Several members of Congress snapped up new shares of defense company stock just before the invasion of Ukraine. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) bought shares of Lockheed Martin the day before the invasion, while John Rutherford (R-FL) secured valuable Raytheon stock the day of the invasion itself. Between December 1, 2021, and April 13, 2022, the stock price of Lockheed Martin skyrocketed by 42.8 percent while Raytheon increased by over 24 percent, both well out-pacing the S&P 500 which actually decreased in the same time period.

Some of those lawmakers even have an outsized role in creating national security policy itself. A recent Business Insider analysis found that 15 members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committee Congress who own stock in defense giants Raytheon and Lockheed Martin.

Another analysis found that four members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, which oversees arms control, had at least four members invested in defense companies. One member of the Committee, Gerry Connolly (D-VA), alone owned $498,000 worth of stock of Leidos — a military contractor that merged with Lockheed Martin in 2016 — as of last year. Leidos’ stock jumped over 27 percent from mid-February to early March. 

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Author: HP McLovincraft

Seeker of rabbit holes. Pessimist. Libertine. Contrarian. Your huckleberry. Possibly true tales of sanity-blasting horror also known as abject reality. Prepare yourself. Veteran of a thousand psychic wars. I have seen the fnords. Deplatformed on Tumblr and Twitter.

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