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Congressional Insider Trading: Activities and Ethical Concerns

by S. Jack Heffernan Ph.D

In recent weeks, revelations about Congressional trading activities have sparked controversy and renewed debates about the ethics of insider trading. Representative Kathy Manning’s active trading spree in 2024, along with other politicians’ conspicuous investments in energy stocks, has once again raised questions about the fairness and transparency of financial dealings among lawmakers.

Let’s delve into the specifics of the recent Congressional trading activity and explore the implications of these transactions:

Representative Kathy E. Manning: Manning’s disclosure reveals a flurry of security purchases spanning multiple sectors, including Citizens Financial Group (CFG), Costco (COST), and Microsoft (MSFT). Conversely, she also reported several security sales, encompassing private hedge funds, Apple (AAPL), and Starbucks (SBUX). Of note, Manning’s position on the Committee on Foreign Affairs adds a layer of scrutiny to her trading activities, raising concerns about potential conflicts of interest.

Representative William Keating: Keating’s filing includes security purchases such as Palo Alto Networks (PANW) and the sale of an AT&T note. As a member of the Committees on Foreign Affairs and Armed Services, Keating’s investment decisions could be influenced by sensitive information pertaining to national security and defense matters, warranting closer examination.

Representative Virginia Foxx: Foxx’s transactions primarily focus on the energy sector, with purchases of Energy Transfer (ET) and Duke Energy (DUK) stocks, alongside sales of securities like Cross Timbers (CRT). Given her role on the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Foxx’s investments raise concerns about potential conflicts of interest and regulatory capture within the energy industry.

Representative Michael Burgess: Burgess’s sale of Valero Energy Company (VLO) shares draws attention, particularly as he serves on the Committee on Energy and Commerce. The timing and rationale behind Burgess’s divestment could invite speculation about the influence of insider knowledge on his trading decisions.

Representative John James: James’s purchases of Affirm Holdings (AFRM), International Business Machines Corp (IBM), and Bitcoin, coupled with his position on the Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure, underscore the intersection of technology, finance, and public policy in his investment portfolio.

Senator Dan Sullivan: Sullivan’s sale of RPM International (RPM) shares, while serving on the Committee on Environment and Public Works and the Subcommittee on Chemical Safety, raises questions about potential conflicts of interest related to environmental regulations and chemical safety standards.

The recent revelations of Congressional trading activities highlight the persistent challenges surrounding insider trading regulations and the need for greater transparency and accountability among lawmakers. While elected officials are subject to financial disclosure requirements, the ethical implications of their investment decisions remain a subject of scrutiny and debate. As calls for stricter oversight and reform intensify, the intersection of politics and finance continues to be a contentious issue in the halls of Congress and beyond.

Shayne Heffernan

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