Sen. Jon Ossoff introduces legislation to ban Congress from trading stocks

Sen. Ossoff delivers road safety updates to Buford Highway at a press conference on February 3, 2023. (Matthew Pearson/WABE)

Georgia democratic U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff is introducing legislation that would ban all members of Congress and their households from directly trading stocks.

Under the proposal, elected officials would have to place their investments into a blind trust to prevent them from using inside information that they have access to as part of their office.

“My view is that the conflicts of interest, the appearance of conflicts of interest is too great. And public confidence that elected representatives are acting in the public’s interest, rather than in their personal financial interest, requires us to restrict stock trading by members of Congress,” Ossoff said.

The senator states that the bill is a continuation of an effort introduced into legislation last year.

He adds that the push to prevent members of Congress from being involved in the stock market stems from the confidential and privileged information that members hold, with their decision-making having the power to potentially impact stock prices to their benefit.

“Members of Congress have visibility into the evolution of regulatory legislation and executive branch action that will impact businesses … it’s an unlevel playing field between members of Congress and the rest of the public,” said Ossoff.

While Ossoff himself held stocks before taking office, he immediately placed his holdings into a blind trust, a decision he based on an example that had been set to him by late Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson.

“This is considered by the Senate Ethics Committee to be the gold standard to ensure that there can be no abuse of insider information,” said the 36-year-old Atlanta resident. “And I encourage other members of Congress, although it’s not yet required, by law, to do the same.”

While he notes that all members of Congress are not yet on board with the idea, he feels that the legislation is necessary to instill that members are dedicated to serving their constituents and the national interests rather than personal financial interests.

“And so long as members of Congress are engaged in stock trading while in office … we see over and over again that members of Congress are trading stocks in ways that undermine public confidence in the integrity of elected officials,” said Ossoff.

“And it’s necessary for us to take this step to ban this practice, in order to prevent the emergence of conflicts of interest in order to prevent the abuse of power.”