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Congress members again hit it big in the stock market in 2023

by WorldTribune Staff, January 5, 2024

An overwhelming majority of Americans support prohibiting stock-trading in individual companies by members of Congress.

A July 23 survey by the Program for Public Consultation (PPC) at the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy found 86 percent of respondents favor the ban.

Some legislators have attempted, and failed, several times to ban their peers from trading stocks.

How's that working out?

In 2023, Congress members traded over $1 billion in stocks, with a third of trading members beating the fund that tracks S&P 500 growth, according to a report by financial data platform Unusual Whales.

Another big year of trading for Congress members demonstrates "once again that if you’re privy to the insider information that’s readily available to the nation’s primary legislative body, it’s not hard to beat the market," Jordan Boyd wrote for The Federalist on Jan. 3.

Democrats far outpaced their Republican colleagues at the trading trough in 2023, according to Unusual Whales. While Republican members were up 18 percent from previous years, Democrats saw a 31 percent increase in stock returns.

California Democrat Rep. Ro Khanna, who sits on the House Armed Services and House Oversight and Accountability committees, disclosed the most stock market purchases for 2023 at 1,589, raking in more than $25 million in stock sales.

Texas Republican Rep. Michael McCaul, a member of the House Foreign Affairs and House Homeland Security committees, bought more than 140 technology stocks and sold more than $42 million worth of shares in technology, health care, and other sectors.

New Jersey Democrat Rep. Josh Gottheimer, who sits on the House Intelligence and House Financial Services committees, recorded 91 technology stock purchases.

California Democrat Rep. Nancy Pelosi reduced her share activity in 2023 but still boasted big gains from several of her favorite NASDAQ participants including Crowdstrike, Tesla, Apple, and Microsoft, the report said.

Members of the House Oversight and Accountability and Armed Services committees purchased hundreds of stocks worth tens of millions of dollars at the same time that they held hearings and meetings about the future of the industries where they acquired shares. Members on those same committees collectively sold more than 1,000 stocks in the health care, financial, and technology sectors for more than $62 million.

In the Senate, members of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee combined with members of the Armed Services, Veterans’ Affairs, and Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry committees purchased millions in healthcare, financial services, and technology stocks. They, along with members of the Environment and Public Works, Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Aging, and Budget committees, also sold millions of shares.

The Congress members also took in huge financial rewards for resuming options trading, Unusual Whales noted:

“You read that right, Congress is once again buying leveraged positions on equities they hold. In fact, in 2023 U.S. Congress traded more options than they did in 2022 AND 2021! Some notable highlights here, Josh Gottheimer traded, and this is no exaggeration, NEARLY $150 MILLION (!!!!) of option contracts in 2023. This was often done while Congress was in session.”

And, as Boyd noted: "The $1 billion in exchanges calculated by Unusual Whales is already a jarring number, but it may not even represent the totality of congressional trades in 2023. A significant number of elected officials in the upper and lower chambers have a history of failing to disclose their trades until they are caught."

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