The nation is unabashedly polarized. Republicans and Democrats enjoy little goodwill and less commonality.
But in Washington, DC, a bipartisan phenomenon is thriving. Numerous members of Congress, both liberal and conservative, are united in their demonstrated indifference toward a law designed to quash corruption and curb conflicts-of-interest.
Insider’s new investigative reporting project, “Conflicted Congress,” chronicles the myriad ways members of the US House and Senate have eviscerated their own ethical standards, avoided consequences, and blinded Americans to the many moments when lawmakers’ personal finances clash with their public duties.
In all, Insider spent hundreds of hours over five months reviewing nearly 9,000 financial-disclosure reports for every sitting lawmaker and their top-ranking staffers. Reporters conducted hundreds of interviews, including those with some of the nation’s most powerful leaders.
From December 13 to December 17, Insider published more than two-dozen articles and data visualizations that together reveal:
- 52 members of Congress and 182 senior-level congressional staffers who have violated a federal conflicts-of-interest law.
- That lawmakers and top congressional staffers face minimal and inconsistently applied penalties for violating the STOCK Act, and that it’s nearly impossible (but we did it anyway) to comprehensively obtain “public records” about senior-level staffers’ personal finances.
- Nearly 75 federal lawmakers who held stocks in COVID-19 vaccine makers Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, or Pfizer in 2020, with many of them buying or selling these stocks in the early weeks of the pandemic.
- 15 lawmakers tasked with shaping US defense policy that actively invest in military contractors.
- More than a dozen environmentally-minded Democrats who invest in fossil fuel companies or other corporations with concerning environmental track records.
- Members who regularly chide “the media” but personally pour their money into at least one of the nation’s largest news media or social media companies, including Facebook, Twitter, Comcast, Disney, and the New York Times Co.
- 16 lawmakers who buy and hold tobacco company stock, including some who have publicly fought smoking.
- Senators, House members, and top Capitol Hill staffers who will help decide whether the government regulates cryptocurrency — and are themselves invested in bitcoin and altcoins.
- How numerous Capitol Hill staffers are themselves saddled with student loans at a time when Congress is considering erasing education debt. But congressional staffers get loan repayment perks average Americans don’t.
- The role the Securities and Exchange Commission could play in policing congressional insider trading.
- Real-estate investment plays made by lawmakers who are also landlords.
- Reasons why some lawmakers abstain from trading individual stocks — and why they believe their congressional colleagues should, too.
- 25 wealthiest members of Congress and where they put their money.
- 50 most popular stock holdings among members of Congress.