It’s no secret that members of Congress qualify as political insiders, but a new report strongly suggests that they also may be insiders when it comes to trading stocks.
An extensive study released Wednesday in the journal Business and Politics found that the investments of members of the House of Representatives outperformed those of the average investor by 55 basis points per month, or 6 percent annually, suggesting that lawmakers are taking advantage of inside information to fatten their stock portfolios.
“We find strong evidence that members of the House have some type of non-public information which they use for personal gain,” according to four academics who authored the study, “Abnormal Returns From the Common Stock Investments of Members of the U.S. House of Representatives.”
To the frustration of open-government advocates, lawmakers and their staff members largely have immunity from laws barring trading on insider knowledge that have sent many a private corporate chieftain to prison.
The watchdog group OpenSecrets.org said on its blog Wednesday that the findings suggest “that U.S. House members are using their powerful roles for more than just political gain.”
The professors reviewed more than 16,000 common stock transactions carried out by about 300 House members as revealed in the members’ financial-disclosure forms from 1985 to 2001.