Aug 21, 2018

Elizabeth Warren wants to bar Congress from owning individual stock

Senator Elizabeth Warren. Photo: Craig F. Walker/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) introduced a sweeping anti-corruption bill Tuesday that would impose a lifetime ban on lobbying for presidents and federal lawmakers, restrict elected officials from owning individual stock, and limit lobbying on behalf of foreign governments.

Why it matters: Warren's Anti-Corruption and Public Integrity Act has a slim chance of passing, but it does shine a light on the questionable financial practices of several government officials, from Capitol Hill to the White House — just in time for the November midterm elections and 2020 presidential buzz.

Timing: The bill is Warren's latest effort to curb what she sees as corrupt influence campaigns within the U.S. government. Last week, Warren unveiled a different plan — the Accountable Capitalism Act — aimed at ratcheting up corporate governance.

The details: The anti-corruption legislation would...

  • Impose a lifetime ban on presidents, lawmakers, cabinet secretaries and justices.
  • Require presidential candidates to disclose years of previous tax returns and continue doing so each year of their presidency.
  • Bar federal workers from lobbying their former employers for at least two years.
  • Prevent lobbyists from taking a government job for at least two years.
  • Put new taxes on "excessive lobbying" of more than $500,000 a year.
  • Ensure Supreme Court justices follow a code of conduct recognized by other federal judges.

The backdrop:

  • President Trump and his family's properties have largely profited from his presidency, a matter that several critics and ethics watchdogs have claimed presents a conflict of interest and puts him at odds with his promise to "Drain the Swamp."
  • Earlier this month, Rep. Christopher Collins (R-NY), one of the first members of Congress to support President Trump, was arrested on charges of insider trading relating to the sale of shares in an Australian company, of which Collins sat on the board. Several other members of Congress have also owned stock in the company.
  • A government watchdog filed a complaint this month alleging that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross may be illegally holding stock in companies affected by Trump administration directives.

Go deeper: Elizabeth Warren’s plan to save capitalism

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George Zimmerman sues Buttigieg and Warren for $265M

George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida, in November 2013. Photo: Joe Burbank-Pool/Getty Images

George Zimmerman filed a lawsuit in Polk County, Fla. seeking $265 million in damages from Democratic presidential candidates Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren, accusing them of defaming him to "garner votes in the black community."

Context: Neither the Massachusetts senator nor the former Southbend mayor tweeted his name in the Feb. 5 posts on what would've been the 25th birthday of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed black teen Zimmerman fatally shot in 2012. But Zimmerman alleges they "acted with actual malice" to defame him.

4 takeaways from the Nevada Democratic debate

Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

The relative civility of the last eight Democratic debates was thrown by the wayside Wednesday night, the first debate to feature the billionaire "boogeyman," Michael Bloomberg, whose massive advertising buys and polling surge have drawn the ire of the entire field.

The big picture: Pete Buttigieg captured the state of the race early on, noting that after Super Tuesday, the "two most polarizing figures on this stage" — Bloomberg and democratic socialist Bernie Sanders — could be the only ones left competing for the nomination. The rest of candidates fought to stop that momentum.

Klobuchar squares off with Buttigieg on immigration

Buttigieg and Klobuchar in Las Vegas on Feb. 19. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg went after Sen. Amy Klobuchar on the debate stage Wednesday for voting to confirm Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan and voting in 2007 to make English the national language.

What she's saying: "I wish everyone was as perfect as you, Pete, but let me tell you what it's like to be in the arena. ... I did not one bit agree with these draconian policies to separate kids from their parents, and in my first 100 days, I would immediately change that."