Rep. Dan Bishop (R-NC) is the latest federal lawmaker to violate the STOCK Act by failing to properly disclose purchasing up to $5 million in U.S. Treasury notes, according to a Raw Story analysis of congressional financial disclosures.
On May 4, Bishop disclosed that he purchased between $1,000,001 to $5 million worth of Treasury notes on Dec. 12 — more than three months past a federal deadline.
The disclosure said, “The submittal of this report is late because I mistakenly left it in draft and failed to submit when originally posted in Dec. 2022.”
Bishop’s team confirmed this in a statement. “When submitting PTRs in December for U.S. Treasury securities purchased, Congressman Bishop mistakenly omitted to press ‘submit’ for the last of the three filings. He submitted it immediately upon discovering the mistake, and regrets the error,” said Allie McCandless, a spokesperson for Bishop.
Bishop’s team did not indicate if he would be required to pay a federal fine — the standard penalty for a late financial disclosure of this sort is $200.
Rep. Dan Bishop (R-NC) is the latest member of Congress to violate the disclosure provisions of the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act of 2012. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)
The Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act requires lawmakers to publicly reveal, within 45 days, most individual stock, bond, Treasury security and cryptocurrency transactions. The law, passed by Congress in 2012, is designed to prevent insider trading, promote transparency and reduce conflicts of interest among federal lawmakers and other government officials.
Members of Congress are only required to disclose the values of such trades in broad ranges.
‘Continued, ongoing violation’
Dylan Hedtler-Gaudette, senior government affairs manager with the Project on Government Oversight, a nonpartisan watchdog group that exposes conflicts of interest in the government, expressed skepticism that there would be any consequences for the violation.
A $200 fine “is not going to disincentivize or dissuade anyone from doing anything, particularly if you're talking about transactions in the millions of dollars. They're not going to care about a $200 fine, and even with that, oftentimes the ethics committee chooses to waive the $200 fine,” Hedtler-Gaudette said. “If there are no penalties and no consequences, then I think you’re going to see continued, ongoing violations and noncompliance with these disclosure requirements.”
Bishop is hardly the first congressman that Raw Story has reported on violating the STOCK Act.
In January, Raw Story broke the news that Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) failed to properly disclose that his wife sold up to $100,000 worth of stock in gaming company Activision Blizzard in September 2022 and purchased up to $15,000 worth of stock in Amazon.com in August 2022.
Raw Story also reported that Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) was several days late disclosing that he had sold personal stock in an energy company and a pair of federal defense contractors.
Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) also violated the STOCK Act in March with a late disclosure.
During the 117th Congress from 2021 to 2022, at least 78 members of Congress — dozens of Democrats and Republicans alike — were found to have violated the STOCK Act's disclosure provisions, according to a tally maintained by Insider.
News organizations including the New York Times, Insider, NPR and Sludge have documented rampant financial conflicts of interests among dozens of members of Congress, such as those who bought and sold defense contractor stock while occupying positions on congressional armed services committees or otherwise voting on measures to send such companies billions of federal dollars. The executive and judicial branches are riddled with similar financial conflict issues, too, as the Wall Street Journal has reported.
The Wall Street Journal this week won a Pulitzer Prize for its investigation into financial conflicts among officials who work in federal agencies.
Potential stock-trade ban?
Amid these problems, a growing, bipartisan and decidedly odd coalition of federal lawmakers want to ban themselves and their colleagues from trading stocks altogether.
The most recent bill to be introduced — the Bipartisan Restoring Faith in Government Act — is co-sponsored in part by political rivals in Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Matt Gaetz (R-FL).
Other materially similar bills include the Ending Trading and Holdings in Congressional Stocks Act, the Trust in Congress Act and the Preventing Elected Leaders from Owning Securities and Investments Act.
Some lawmakers pushed for a congressional stock ban in 2022 only to be thwarted by then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic congressional leaders, who wouldn’t allow a vote on introduced legislation.
As for Bishop, the congressman “broke the law by not reporting these transactions within that timeframe that he’s supposed to, so that should be the most important thing here,” Hedtler-Gaudette said.
“We’ve seen a lot of these kinds of violations in the STOCK Act disclosure requirements over the past couple of years, and I think it just speaks to a larger issue that really pervades the institution of Congress, and that’s that they just don't really take their ethics very seriously,” Hedtler-Gaudette said. “In particular, they don't take their disclosure requirements and their transaction reporting requirements seriously, and that's a problem because already the public doesn't trust Congress, generally speaking.”
POGO said its ideal vision for policies around congressional stock trading would be a ban on trading stocks and other assets like commodities and futures that are susceptible to insider trading while in office.
“It’s not that we don't want people to be able to have a financial portfolio, and obviously everyone ought to be able to save as far as retirement goes, but they just shouldn't be able to have an unfair advantage,” Hedtler-Gaudette said. “In the current moment, that’s what they have right now.”