Corruption and hypocrisy are the “dark side of the force,” if you will, in politics. The latter is usually covering up the former, and both parties have equally been at fault.
Hypocrisy took center stage at the end of September when legislation to ban stock ownership by members of Congress was shelved by Nancy Pelosi, even though there was broad bi-partisan support for the bill.
The proposal would ban senior government officials across all three branches of government from trading stocks and directly holding investments in securities, commodities, futures, and cryptocurrency.
When justifying the decision to table the legislation, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said that members needed more time to review the bill. Hypocrisy #1 – they didn’t need more time to study the 2,000-page so-called “Inflation Reduction” Act when it was dropped the day before the vote! So why do they need more time now?
Nancy Pelosi also said members deserve the freedom to participate in the public markets. Hypocrisy #2 – since when did Pelosi start believing in free-market capitalism after doing so much to strangle it in America?
This important issue of transparency and avoiding obvious conflicts of interest has been thoroughly discussed and debated. Additionally, the legislation makes several accommodations for divesting holdings over a period of time, individual stocks that could be held in a blind trust, and the ability to participate in the markets through mutual funds.
With the death of the bill for this Congress, politicians and their family members — like Pelosi’s husband — can still benefit from stock trades in companies that are engaged in larger government contracts. Elected officials will still be tempted to violate current disclosure rules because the late fee is a measly $200, and undoubtedly some untrustworthy politicians will let greed lead them to make trades based on special non-public information.
Only the light of transparency and accountability will dispel the dark side of the force. Unfortunately, it looks like that will not happen anytime soon.