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Barring members of Congress from playing stocks could restore public trust.

Ballotpedia tracks what it calls a “personal gain index” showing how much each member of Congress’ personal wealth has changed while in office. For the top 20, the average increase in net worth has been 422% per year. Data like that helps explain why regular Americans hold Congress in such low esteem, as they watch their supposed public servants seemingly benefiting personally from their positions. Bipartisan legislation in Congress to prohibit its members from buying and selling stocks while in office could help rebuild that trust. 

In January 2020, when most of America had no idea what the coronavirus would soon do to the economy, many members of Congress did, because they were getting privileged information from experts. Several of those members started dumping stock they owned — this during a soaring stock market that most people didn’t know was about to tank as the pandemic arrived.

Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., sold between $628,000 and $1.72 million worth, including hotel holdings that would subsequently lose value because of the lockdowns. Then-Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Georgia, sold off even more doomed stocks — while picking up one for a tech company whose value would spike because of the coming necessity of teleconferencing for many more workers. The husband of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., sold at least $1.5 million worth of stock before the market plunged. The wife of Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., bought stock in February 2020 in a pharmaceutical company that developed an antiviral treatment for the coronavirus, well before most regular Americans knew it would be needed.

A recent investigation by Business Insider found scores of members of Congress have violated a requirement to disclose stock trades within 45 days of the transaction. Worse, when the website sought comment from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (whose husband is a major stock trader), she dismissed the idea of requiring lawmakers to put their holdings in blind trusts while serving — a response that angered reformers on both sides of the aisle and has reinvigorated efforts to pass such a requirement.

The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Tim Dwyer, Managing Editor Izaskun E. Larrañeta, staff writer Erica Moser and retired deputy managing editor Lisa McGinley. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.

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