The Conflicted: Reps Own Stock in Companies While Serving on Committees Overseeing Them

Despite public anger over congressional stock trading, senators and reps have held on to personal investments in companies that fall under their committees' jurisdiction.

The Conflicted: Reps Own Stock in Companies While Serving on Committees Overseeing Them
Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) listens during an event at the Heritage Foundation on June 21, 2022.

Polls show Americans want to crack down on the glaring ways that members of Congress could enrich themselves with insider information, after several lawmakers were caught in 2020 making stock trades following privileged briefings on the coronavirus pandemic. The issue of senators and representatives trading stocks has popped up in the North Carolina Senate contest and other midterm races.

But even when lawmakers are not buying and selling stocks, in many cases they’re holding stocks that pose conflicts of interest with their work on congressional committees. Sludge reviewed the latest congressional annual disclosures and transaction reports and found several examples of representatives and senators holding stock in companies while serving on the committees that are responsible for preparing legislation determining how their investments’ industries are regulated. In some cases, lawmakers are holding stock in government contractors while sitting on the committees that approve funding for the agencies that dole out their investments’ contracts.