APPLETON, Wis. – Outagamie County Executive and grassroots populist Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Tom Nelson articulated his support for a ban on insider stock trading by members of Congress and their families in a recent guest column in The Capital Times, calling for an end to “a form of corruption that has been a slap in the face to working families.”
Nelson noted that fully two-thirds of U.S. senators are millionaires and, in 2021 alone, more than 50 members of Congress violated ethics rules supposed to stop them from trading stocks using the insider information they gain from public office.
“Ideally, sitting congressional members shouldn’t be worried about the bottom lines of their stock portfolio. They should put their holdings into mutual funds and CDs like the rest of us, instead of enriching themselves through positions of power,” Nelson wrote.
Nelson called on President Biden and Democratic Party leaders to join in the call for the stock ban, embodied in legislation first sponsored by U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.), and noted the political benefit to Democrats if they aggressively pursued and promoted populist policies in the upcoming midterms. Since the publication of Nelson’s column, both Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have publicly backed banning members of Congress from trading individual stocks.
“If we begin leading on issues like this, we’ll be able to weather the midterm storm and reclaim our rightful mantle as the party of the people,” he wrote.
The entire column appears below.
Cap Times: “Time to ban insider trading in Congress”
Last January, Georgia voters were hammered with TV ads highlighting their incumbent senators’ use of insider information to make millions in suspiciously timed stock trades. The argument that Georgians simply couldn’t trust David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler when they were knee-deep in the swamp and profiting at taxpayer expense helped produce stunning upsets, giving us a fragile Democratic majority.
As Democrats face a tough midterm election, and trust in Congress is at all-time lows, I know most Wisconsinites like myself believe this should be an easy call. Seventy-six percent of voters endorse a ban on insider trading by lawmakers, with more Republicans and Independents approving than even Democrats. Bipartisan support from folks like Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-California, and Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Missouri, exists for Georgia Democratic Sen. Jon Ossoff’s legislation to wipe out this corrupt practice. Why won’t Democratic leaders put his bill to a floor vote and show voters we take corruption and all appearances of it seriously?
Unlike some of our current sitting senators, I’m not running for the U.S. Senate because I want to play Gordon Gekko, especially when the job is to serve the public interest. Ideally, sitting congressional members shouldn’t be worried about the bottom lines of their stock portfolio. They should put their holdings into mutual funds and CDs like the rest of us, instead of enriching themselves through positions of power.
But as Business Insider recently confirmed, this isn’t the case. In 2021 alone, 54 members of Congress violated current laws designed to prevent conflict of interests when trading stock. This is unfathomable and should not be accepted by the everyday Americans who are struggling to pay their rent or daily necessities.
Let me put this into other terms.
As we Wisconsinites all know, the Green Bay Packers are the only team in America not owned by billionaires or corporate interests, but by the people. Packers stock is the only stock owned by many Wisconsin families. And Packers stock can’t be traded. I believe this same principle should apply to our members of Congress. As representatives elected by the people, members should not be allowed to make millions — as so many did during the COVID-19 crisis — just like anyone with hypothetical knowledge of a game shouldn’t be allowed to profit. Even if I had known the Packers were going to blow the game against the 49ers, I shouldn’t be allowed to profit off that intel.
I am calling on President Joe Biden to show the same moral compass he exercised on voting rights and refrain from punting on this issue. I am equally calling on Speaker Nancy Pelosi to recognize the fallacies of saying members should be allowed to trade because, “We’re a free market economy.” Members are privy to information that the average Joe does not have, and insisting otherwise only builds on the public belief that we have a rigged economy which benefits only the elites.
Two-thirds of U.S. senators are millionaires (if elected I’d be part of the lonely one-third). We need to push for accountability and to do better.
And finally, I’m calling on Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to allow the Ossoff legislation to come for a vote to support the end of a form of corruption that has been a slap in the face to working families. If we begin leading on issues like this, we’ll be able to weather the midterm storm and reclaim our rightful mantle as the party of the people.
Tom Nelson is the Outagamie County executive and a Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate.