Democrats have an opportunity to score a big win with a fight to stop the culture of corruption: columnist
Senator David Perdue. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

Economics columnist Helaine Olen penned a column for the Washington Post Sunday saying that Democrats are squandering a rare opportunity to fight Republicans on their culture of corruption.

"If there is any issue that should be a gimme for a political party seeking support, it’s putting a stop to stock trading by members of Congress and others in senior federal government positions while in office," she explained.

Republicans have been caught dumping stocks ahead of the COVID-19 crisis or ridding themselves of stocks that could dive ahead of international incidents. In one six-year term as a U.S. Senator, David Perdue's (R-GA) made 2,596 stock trades, the most of any other senator by far.

In 2021, 54 members of Congress violated a law that was passed to stop insider trading and prevent conflicts for elected officials, and they're not all Republicans. For some of the members, the issue is that they took too long to submit their filings or their spouse's filings during the COVID pandemic. Others are more serious with members who submitted their filings but left many things off.

Sen. Malinowski (D-NJ) didn't disclose dozens of stock trades in 2020 and 2021. It was only after BusinessInsider asked about them that he showed them on his filings.

Rep. Diana Harshbarger (R-TN) didn't disclose more than 700 stock trades. The total was worth up to $10.9 million.

One of the major problems with the existing law is that the fines for violations aren't that substantial. So, Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) and Sen. Jon Ossof (D-GA) introduced a bill that would make it illegal for members to trade stocks at all. It's an issue that is overwhelmingly supported by Americans who believe that people shouldn't be allowed to trade stocks while overseeing businesses, contracts and industries.

"It’s popular. It makes sense," wrote Olen. "This is political low-hanging fruit. Unlike with, say, health care, there are no armies of lobbyists or multimillion-dollar campaigns trying to sway all 435 members of the House and 100 members of the Senate."

It's a bill that both sides want and it could not only bring the parties together, but it could give Democrats in their home states to talk about a culture of corruption among many Republicans seeking office again.

Olen doesn't think it'll happen because the top leadership in both parties is against it. They stand to lose buckets of cash if they no longer can play the markets.

Read her full take at the Washington Post.