A Democratic congressman who says Congress shouldn’t trade stock violated existing stock trade law
SPRINGFIELD, VA - U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) speaks during a health care forum at Greenspring Retirement Community August 25, 2009 in Springfield, Virginia. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Count Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) among a growing number of federal lawmakers bent on banning themselves from trading individual stocks.

“It ought not to be our business,” Connolly said, citing the potential for conflicts of interest between lawmakers’ private investments and public duties.

But the eight-term congressman, who’s served as a senior member of the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability, was late disclosing three of his own personal stock trades in violation of a federally mandated deadline, a Raw Story analysis of congressional financial documents indicates.

He joins dozens of other members of Congress — Democrats and Republicans alike — who in recent years have violated the disclosure requirements contained in the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act, a 2012 law Congress passed to defend against financial conflicts, curb insider trading and enhance public transparency.

Connolly’s Dec. 6 trades involve sales of stock in power generation company Dominion Energy Inc., technology and engineering company Leidos and information technology firm Science Applications International Corporation.

Both Leidos and SAIC are major government contractors that together have received billions of dollars worth of business from the federal government — particularly for defense and homeland security services — in recent years. SAIC stock closed at $115.16 per share on Dec. 6 — its highest close ever.

Together, Connolly’s sales are valued at between $17,002 and $80,000, according to the financial documents, which only list the values of trades in broad ranges. It is unclear how much money he personally gained or lost from the trades.

Connolly explained in a phone interview with Raw Story that he does not personally trade stocks — advisers at financial investment firm TIAA do on his behalf.

“That’s not how I operate. I have never talked to them about trading stocks, I don’t control [trades], I have nothing to do with that — it’s virtually like a blind trust,” he said, adding that he has directed his advisers to rebalance his investments away from individual stocks.

“I told them, ‘I don’t want to be in the stock market, get us to where we have no individual stocks,’” Connolly said, noting that he still owns a few individual stocks, which his most recent annual financial disclosure confirms. “I want to do socially responsible mutual funds.”

Connolly said he submitted his digitally signed stock trade disclosure document several days late to the Clerk of the House of Representatives because his financial advisers were late notifying his wife, who files his congressional disclosure reports, about the stock sales.

The Committee on House Ethics, which reviews such matters, did not assess him a $200 fine — the standard payment for disclosing stock trades late — because the congressman’s tardy filings fell within a 30-day fine-free “grace period,” Connolly said.

A Committee on House Ethics representative could not be reached for comment, although as a general practice, the committee does not publicly comment on fines that members of Congress pay for improperly disclosing personal financial information.

Connolly’s late stock disclosure comes as a bipartisan group members of Congress, including Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO), are renewing efforts to ban federal lawmakers and their spouses from trading stocks altogether. Cryptocurrency trades are also a target.

News organizations including the New York Times, Insider, NPR and Sludge documented rampant financial conflicts of interests among dozens of members of Congress, such as those who bought and sold defense contractor stock while occupying positions on congressional armed services committees or otherwise voting on measures to send such companies billions of federal dollars. The executive and judicial branches are riddled with similar financial conflict issues, too, as the Wall Street Journal has reported.

A plan to enact a congressional stock-trade ban failed during the 2021-2022 congressional session after Democratic House leaders declined to bring any of several existing bills — including one floated by House leaders themselves — up for a vote.

Connolly said he “wants to take a look” at the stock-ban bills pending this session before he decides to support or even co-sponsor any. But in principle, “I agree we should do it,” he said.