Sep 25, 2017

Report: Hill aide stock trades pose conflicts of interest

An aide whispers to Sen. Dick Durbin as the Senate Judiciary Committee questions top Obama administration officials about the National Security Agency's surveillance programs. Photo: J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Some senior Congressional aides buy and sell stocks that could have a conflict of interest with their work, according to reporting by Politico. Since May 2015, around 450 aides have bought or sold stock of more than $1K value. There are probably more instances, as aides who make less than $124,406 are not required to report their stock purchases.

Why it matters: It's the aides who often have the more hands-on role in writing the details of legislation that impacts these companies, not the members. While the executive branch is far more strict about violating federal conflict-of-interest laws, and actual members of Congress might face much tougher scrutiny, Congress refuses to crack down on rules about stock trading.

Example: In the nine days between the drug company Mylan being accused by Senate Judiciary Committee leaders of violating Medicaid laws and reaching a multi-million dollar settlement, a Senate Judiciary Committee aide sold $4,004-$60,000 worth of stock in the company, according to Politico.

Throwback: Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price faced criticism during his Senate hearing for buying stocks in a small biotech company after sitting in health care committees with influence on legislation that would effect the company. Shortly after Price's harsh questioning, several Congressman also invested in the same biotech company.

See Politico's piece for other aides who are known to have traded stocks.

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