Lawmakers aim to ban stock trading to raise the standard of public service

Congressmen Jared Golden and Michael Cloud introduced legislation that would prohibit the president, vice president, and other senior executive branch officials, their spouses, and dependent children from owning or trading stocks while the official is in office, except through a qualified blind trust.

The proposed legislation—the Dismantling Investments in Violation of Ethical Standards through Trusts Act (DIVEST Act)—would apply to the spouses and dependent children of presidents, vice presidents, and senior executive service political appointees.

“No matter what party is in power, we should have no doubt that our government officials are working for the American people, not trying to make a quick buck for themselves,” said Golden, a Democrat from Maine. “While we continue to push for a ban on Members of Congress trading stocks, we also need legislation like the DIVEST Act to address the potential for corruption in the executive branch.”

“A great disservice is done to our nation when public servants are able to profit off access to sensitive information while working on behalf of the American people,” said Cloud, a Texas Republican. “We must do all we can to ensure government officials are serving Americans, not their own stock portfolio.”

The lawmakers claim the bipartisan DIVEST Act would explicitly ban the president, vice president, and other senior federal officials from trading stocks while in office and raise the standard of service and accountability from our executive branch.

The officials or their family members could divest any prohibited interest by converting the interest to cash or another investment, or by placing it into a blind trust.

Covered individuals would have six months to divest after an official takes office.

Lisa McCormkick the New Jersey Democrat who challenged US Sen. Bob Menendez in 2018, said she strongly supports the bipartisan legislation, as well as measures to stop members of Congress from owning or trading stocks.

McCormick said she feels a certain kinship with the sponsors since Golden has worked to ensure that public officials act in the public interest, not for their portfolios.

Last year, Golden reintroduced his Stop Foreign Payoffs Act, which would bar government officials and their families from receiving a salary from or holding an investment in a foreign business.

He has long been a leader in the push to ban members of Congress from owning or trading stocks.

Earlier this year, Golden introduced the bipartisan Fighting Foreign Influence Act, comprehensive legislation to crack down on foreign influence seeking to corrupt U.S. elections, government officials, and think tanks.

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