Sherrod Brown: Time to get serious about cleaning up the Senate

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Sherrod Brown: Time to get serious about cleaning up the Senate

Washington Post — Sherrod Brown is calling on his fellow Senators, Democrats and Republicans alike, to take a stand on a simple question: Should Senators be allowed to own stock in companies whose bottom lines are directly affected by their votes?

Senator Brown tells me he is introducing a measure in the Senate today that would require all Senators to divest themselves of any stocks in companies that are impacted by their actions as a Senator. The idea is that members of Congress — who are suffering historically low approval ratings while enjoying historically high levels of personal wealth — have some work to do in building confidence that the institution is representing the public interest, rather than the interests of the wealthy and well-connected, some of whom are, well, them.

“Members of the House and Senate should not be voting on issues that affect their financial investments,” Brown told me. “We have the privilege of holding these jobs.There should be no perception that we’re benefitting. We need to show the public we mean business.”

Brown will introduce the measure — which could very well get a vote — as an amendment to the STOCK Act that’s currently being debated in the Senate. The STOCK Act would ban insider stock trading in Congress, preventing members of Congress from using “non public information” derived from their position to explicitly enrich themselves. But the STOCK proposal doesn’t address the far more pervasive situation in which members are casting votes that directly impact companies they have a financial stake in.

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