Unveiling the profitable pursuits of Congress: a deep dive into lawmakers’ stock market triumphs and the ethical quandaries they pose.

By Ruth Milka, Nation of Change

In 2023, members of the United States Congress significantly outperformed the stock market, according to a revealing report by Unusual Whales, a financial watchdog group. This performance has reignited debate over the ethical implications of lawmakers engaging in stock trading, particularly those whose portfolios include companies impacted by their legislative actions. The report, which meticulously analyzed trading activities of numerous Congress members, disclosed that several lawmakers achieved returns surpassing the S&P 500 Index, a standard benchmark for measuring market performance.

The study by Unusual Whales compared lawmakers’ portfolio returns against the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY), a common benchmark for stock market performance. It found that 32 members of Congress, evenly split between Democrats and Republicans, surpassed the SPY’s growth of 24.81% in 2023. Democratic representatives, on average, saw a 31.18% return, while their Republican counterparts realized a 17.99% increase. Notably, Representative Brian Higgins (D-N.Y.) led with a staggering 238.9% gain, followed by others like Rep. Mark Green (R-Tenn.) and Rep. Garret Graves (R-La.), who also secured significant financial returns.

The revelations in the Unusual Whales report have sparked a flurry of criticism and concerns about potential conflicts of interest. Melanie D’Arrigo, a former Democratic congressional candidate, emphasized that lawmakers should not be permitted to trade stocks in companies they regulate. Nina Turner, a former congressional candidate and senior fellow at the Institute on Race, Power, and Political Economy, echoed this sentiment, labeling such activities as corrupt.

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