As calls grow louder to ban members of Congress from trading individual stocks, a Spectrum News NY1 analysis shows that most New Yorkers on Capitol Hill do not own stocks. However, two members in particular — Reps. Chris Jacobs and Tom Suozzi — have large portfolios.
“It creates a conflict of interest. I think it’s really basic, very simple,” said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, one of those urging new stock restrictions be enacted.
Some lawmakers are proposing banning members of Congress and their spouses from buying and selling — forcing them to put any holdings in blind trusts. Others go a step further, saying children of members should also face restrictions.
Ocasio-Cortez says Congress must do something.
“Let's start right away, as soon as we can, in at least preventing actual members of Congress from holding and trading individual stock,” she said. “And then we can build on that.”
Rep. Ritchie Torres, another New York Democrat representing the Bronx, recently signed onto a bipartisan letter imploring House leaders to end the practice.
“The appearance of impropriety is a compelling enough reason to impose a ban on congressional stock trading writ-large,” Torres said in an interview.
The push for new restrictions gained steam after North Carolina Senator Richard Burr sold stock in early 2020, following briefings on the emerging threat posed by the coronavirus. The U.S. Department of Justice did not pursue criminal charges, but Burr lost his spot atop the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Before that, upstate Rep. Chris Collins gave up his seat in Congress after pleading guilty to passing along inside information so his son could avoid a big loss on a drug company stock.
Stocks Owned by New York Lawmakers
So, what stocks do New Yorkers on Capitol Hill own?
With the help of the organization Open Secrets, Spectrum News NY1 dug through the most recently available disclosure reports, which detail lawmaker investments from 2020.
More than half of the delegation — Democrats and Republicans alike — reported owning no individual stocks, including Ocasio-Cortez and Torres, as well as Sen. Chuck Schumer.
“I don’t own any stocks, and I think that’s the right thing to do,” Schumer told reporters last month.
In 2020, Reps. Joseph Morelle and Sean Patrick Maloney both reported selling off their stocks. Maloney had inherited his as part of an IRA after his mother passed away.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney listed a blind trust worth between $1 million and $5 million, but no individual stocks.
In her disclosure, Queens Democratic Rep. Grace Meng listed her husband as owning several stocks, including Johnson & Johnson, General Electric and Intel. Each of those stocks was listed as being worth between $1,001 and $15,000.
And Rep. Tom Reed lists stocks as part of an IRA owned by his wife.
Reps. Andrew Garbarino, Brian Higgins and Nicole Malliotakis each have small stock portfolios, according to the 2020 reports.
Garbarino’s investments included pharmaceutical companies Oramed and Bristol-Myers Squibb. Higgins listed owning stock worth between $50,001 and $100,000 of the tech company NVIDIA.
Malliotakis — who has investments in Boeing, General Electric, Johnson & Johnson, and Pfizer, among others — says she has decided to not buy or sell while in office.
Asked about the push to bar federal lawmakers from stock trades outright, the Staten Island Republican said, “Certainly they should be in a blind trust and maybe put a hold while the lawmakers in office.”
New York’s Two Largest Investors
The largest investors in the delegation by far are Reps. Chris Jacobs and Tom Suozzi.
Jacobs, a Western New York Republican, reports owning stock in well over 100 businesses, with a total stock value between roughly $1.3 million and $5 million, based on Spectrum News NY1’s analysis. (The disclosures do not require exact dollar values for the stocks.)
Suozzi, a Long Island Democrat running for governor, lists between roughly $970,000 and $2.5 million worth of stocks.
Jacobs’ and Suozzi’s portfolios do share some similarities: both own between $100,000 and $250,000 worth of Apple and Microsoft stocks.
Jacobs also lists big investments in Home Depot, Nike and New York-based alcohol company Constellation Brands. United Rentals and NVIDIA round out Suozzi’s largest holdings.
Suozzi says a financial advisor handles his portfolio, though he says he does have some knowledge about what he owns.
“I make no decisions on what stocks I buy or sell,” he said in an interview.
Asked about the proposed restrictions, Suozzi said he would support changes that Congress can pass.
A spokesman for Jacobs said the congressman will follow any and all future financial ethics laws.
The 2020 Reports
Read the financial disclosures for yourself below:
- Sen. Chuck Schumer
- Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand
- Rep. Lee Zeldin
- Rep. Andrew Garbarino
- Rep. Tom Suozzi
- Rep. Kathleen Rice
- Rep. Gregory Meeks
- Rep. Grace Meng
- Rep. Nydia Velazquez
- Rep. Hakeem Jeffries
- Rep. Yvette Clarke
- Rep. Jerrold Nadler
- Rep. Nicole Malliotakis
- Rep. Carolyn Maloney
- Rep. Adriano Espaillat
- Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
- Rep. Ritchie Torres
- Rep. Jamaal Bowman
- Rep. Mondaire Jones
- Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney
- Rep. Antonio Delgado
- Rep. Paul Tonko
- Rep. Elise Stefanik
- Rep. Claudia Tenney
- Rep. Tom Reed
- Rep. John Katko
- Rep. Joseph Morelle
- Rep. Brian Higgins
- Rep. Chris Jacobs