As we recently observed, Congressional Democrats have shown a sudden and surprising interest in banning members of Congress from owning or trading in stocks. Or at least some of them have, while others such as Nancy Pelosi keep raking in the cash hand over fist. While no actual legislation to impose such a ban has reached the floor, another voice has joined the chorus in favor of taking such an action. Democratic Congresswoman Sharice Davids of Kansas has thrown her weight behind the idea of completely banning stock trades by legislators. She endorsed a bill in April that would impose a total ban on such stock ownership. Her story becomes a bit more complicated, however, when you consider that Davids owns stock in three green energy companies that frequently rely on generous congressional subsidies to ensure their fortunes. (Free Beacon)
Rep. Sharice Davids (D., Kan.) has called for a total ban on members of Congress owning stocks in order to “restore trust” in the government. So it’s puzzling that Davids owns shares of three green energy firms that regularly lobby Congress for subsidies.
Her investments in FuelCell Energy, Maxeon Solar Technologies, and SunPower Corporation total up to $17,000. All three companies lobby Congress for green energy tax credits and other incentives, and Davids is in clear position to implement policy that impacts her investments—the Kansas Democrat sits on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, which has helped shape the Biden administration’s green-friendly infrastructure spending initiatives. Davids has said she would use her position on the committee to explore investments in infrastructure projects as “an effective way to combat the effects of climate change.”
The total value of Davids’s holdings in the companies (approximately $17,000) may not seem terribly large, but that’s not the point. It’s a question of whether she is profiting from investments in companies where she has the ability to influence their profitability and may well know things that will affect those values before the public finds out. That’s pretty much the textbook definition of insider trading.
That description could apply to any member of Congress, really, but Sharice Davids isn’t just “any member.” She sits on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. That committee has been heavily involved in pushing through Joe Biden’s “green energy” subsidies for favored corporations. So she not only votes on whether or not such measures advance but sits in private committee hearings where they are debated prior to being voted out of the committee and to the floor. That’s a lot of advance notice if someone was interested in making a change to their portfolio.
So if the congresswoman is so interested in “restoring trust” with the public and eliminating worries about insider trading, why would she wait for a long-shot bill to be signed into law before taking any action? Wouldn’t the principled approach be to divest herself of all of her stocks first and then call on her colleagues to follow her good example? What’s stopping her from immediately doing precisely that? Did she lose her broker’s phone number?
Back in February, MarketWatch estimated that members of the House and Senate traded approximately $355 million worth of stocks in 2021. This is a bipartisan game they are playing to be sure since the four members who traded the highest value of stocks were two Republicans and two Democrats. Republicans Michael McCaul and Mark Green were joined by Democrats Ro Khanna and Suzan DelBene at the top of the list. All traded more than $46 million worth of stocks.
As I’ve said before, if there isn’t going to be a ban on this sort of trading, we should at least be able to publish and read a list of all of the stock trades the members engage in. If nothing else, that might shame a few of the most egregious offenders into behaving better.