Conflicted Congress’: Key findings from Insider’s five-month investigation into federal lawmakers’ personal finances

Pat Fallon, Dianne Feinstein, Mitch McConnell, Nancy Pelosi, Jon Ossoff, and Liz Cheney over an image of the capital
From Left: Rep. Pat Fallon, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Jon Ossoff, Rep. Liz Cheney
Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images; Hannah McKay-Pool/Getty Images; Liz Lynch/Getty Images; Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images; Paras Griffin/Getty Images; David Hume Kennerly/Center for Creative Photography/University of Arizona; iStock; Rebecca Zisser/Insider
Conflicted Congress banner with the the Capitol Building showing in the background
  • Dozens of federal lawmakers and at least 182 top staffers have violated a conflict-of-interest law.
  • Numerous members of Congress personally invest in industries they oversee.
  • Few face serious consequences, legally or otherwise.

The nation is unabashedly polarized. Republicans and Democrats enjoy little goodwill and less commonality.

But in Washington, DC, a bipartisan phenomenon is thriving. Numerous members of Congress, both liberal and conservative, are united in their demonstrated indifference toward a law designed to quash corruption and curb conflicts-of-interest.

Insider’s new investigative reporting project, “Conflicted Congress,” chronicles the myriad ways members of the US House and Senate have eviscerated their own ethical standards, avoided consequences, and blinded Americans to the many moments when lawmakers’ personal finances clash with their public duties.

In all, Insider spent hundreds of hours over five months reviewing nearly 9,000 financial-disclosure reports for every sitting lawmaker and their top-ranking staffers. Reporters conducted hundreds of interviews, including those with some of the nation’s most powerful leaders.

From December 13 to December 17, Insider published more than two-dozen articles and data visualizations that together reveal:

Insider’s “Conflicted Congress” is also rating every member of Congress on their financial conflicts and commitment to financial transparency. Thirteen senators and House members have received a red “danger” rating on our three-tier stoplight scale, while 113 get a yellow “borderline” rating.

Finally, Insider published an exclusive, searchable, and sortable database of all members of Congress’ personal finances, including their assets, debts, and sources of outside income. (Data geeks rejoice!)

Per the Congressional report: “…The U.S. Government hired us to fix America’s energy infrastructure. The mission was accomplished and we were one of the few teams to not go bankrupt or embezzle the funds in the Cleantech Crash. Then the U.S. Government asked us to invest our life savings and years of our time, in a follow-on project. We did and we were defrauded out of our life savings and years of our time because the government had secretly hard wired the money and market access to our competitors, who almost every official involved, on the government’s side, covertly owned the stock of, and partied with. After we helped law enforcement and regulatory agencies investigate this corruption, White House and Congressional executives paid for a multi-million dollar vendetta/revenge series of attacks on us in reprisal. We sued in Washington, DC, for corruption, and were the first people to win a case, of this kind, against federal corruption, per a Supreme Court judge.

Now we want our damages paid and every single one of the crooks put out of business, fired and/or indicted. Investigators have prepared FBI-grade dossiers on every single perpetrator, politician, operative and political financier oligarch involved….”

Plaintiff is a whistle-blower and advisor to the FTC as revealed by emails to and from the FTC and filings with the FTC. Many outsiders have questioned why the FTC has taken minimal actions on these severe charges which affect every citizen. Investigator Keith Griffith, and his team, have now placed on public record the following facts which reveal why the FTC, IG, AG and others have put the ‘slow roll’ on investigations:

REVEALED: A quarter of Federal Trade Commission officials own or trade stocks in the same tech giants they regulate, including Amazon, T-Mobile, Facebook-Meta, Tesla and Google

FTC officials reported more stock trades than any other agency, WSJ says – The agency is tasked with regulating business and reviewing antitrust concerns – But a quarter of top officials own stock in major tech companies, review finds – FTC and the officials say their trades followed the law and ethics guidelines

Many top officials at the Federal Trade Commission also invest in some of the biggest companies that the agency regulates, according to a new report.

From 2016 to 2021, roughly a third of 90 senior officials FTC owned or traded stock in companies that were undergoing an FTC merger review or investigation.

Additionally, a quarter of the top officials were invested in big tech companies such as Amazon, Alphabet and Meta, even as the sector came under heavy regulatory scrutiny over potential antitrust concerns.

One former FTC chairman, Joseph Simons, owned shares of Microsoft, Oracle and AT&T even while agency investigated the tech and telco sectors, the report said.

The FTC and the officials named in the report said all of their stock trades followed the law, as well as ethics rules for federal employees, and they have not been accused of wrongdoing.

However, the report raised concerns about potential conflicts of interest at the agency, which is charged with protecting American consumers from monopolies, economic cartels, and shady business practices.

Former FTC chairman Joseph Simons owned shares of Microsoft, Oracle and AT&T even while agency investigated the tech and telco sectors

Kent Cooper, a former government official and expert on ethics issues, told the Journal that although the officials’ stock trades are in legal compliance, even the appearance of a conflict ‘hurts the reputation of the agency and the government in general.’

‘Are these decisions being made for the benefit of the public or the officials who have a personal benefit in the outcome?’ he said of the questions the disclosures raise.

The newspaper’s analysis was based on financial disclosure forms of about 12,000 senior career employees, political staff and presidential appointees at 50 agencies.

It found that FTC officials, on average, were more active in trading individuals stocks than any other large agency included in the analysis.

An FTC spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment from, but the agency told the Journal that it has a ‘robust ethics program’ and follows the rules set by Congress and the Office of Government Ethics.

Simons, the FTC chairman from 2018 until January 2021, disclosed more than 1,300 trades during his tenure, though less than a dozen were in individual companies, rather than funds.

Simons sold shares of AT&T, Charter Communications, and Oracle during his time as chair, but held on to a stake in Microsoft, which increased 140 percent in value over his tenure.

Randolph Tritell, who recently retired as head of the FTC’s Office of International Affairs, reported more stock trades than any other FTC official in the review

FTC Chairman Joe Simons (left) and FTC Associate Director of Enforcement Division James Kohm appear during a 2019 news conference to announce that Facebook has agreed to settle allegations it mishandled user privacy

Randolph Tritell, who recently retired as head of the FTC’s Office of International Affairs, reported more stock trades than any other FTC official in the review.

Since 2016, he reported more than three dozen trades in shares of Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft and Oracle.

In one case, Tritell saw an 80 percent gain in his Amazon shares over nine months, due to well-timed trades, as the European Commission investigated whether the company violated antitrust rules.

Tritell said that his financial advisor handles his stock trades, and that he rarely provides any input.

Abbott Lipsky was named acting director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition in February 2017 and later that year reported owning nearly 90 individual stocks, some of which were in a family trust.

In May 2017, Lipsky reported buying between $1,001 and $15,000 in JPMorgan Chase, adding to holdings in the company that he already owned, disclosures showed.

Just seven weeks later, on June 29, FTC antitrust regulators cleared an acquisition involving JPMorgan.

Federal ethics rules contain exemptions that allow the trading of individual stocks, and the FTC officials say that all of their trades followed guidelines.

Abbott Lipsky was named acting director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition in February 2017 and later that year reported owning nearly 90 individual stocks

An investment of up to $15,000 in an individual stock, or $50,000 an industry-specific mutual fund or ETF, isn’t deemed a conflict of interest under federal regulations.

The report comes as stock trading by members of Congress and their immediate family members comes under renewed scrutiny by ethics experts.

In July, some stock trades executed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband, Paul Pelosi, drew attention when he sold his shares of chipmaker Nvidia days before the House was expected to consider a massive stimulus bill to boost the US semiconductor industry.

Paul Pelosi sold 25,000 shares of Nvidia for about $4.1 million, suffering a loss of $341,365, according to financial reports.

Democrats have proposed legislation to regulate stock trades by members of Congress, but Republicans and even some Democrats say the measures do not go far enough to prevent conflicts of interest.

Democrats on the House Administration Committee released a framework for stock-trading legislation last month, but it is unlikely to be brought to a vote before the midterm elections next month.

Based on thousands of such revelations in the last two weeks, it is clear to this Court and to any person of average intelligence that U.S. Government officials steered money and resources to their family friends and co-partners and away from Plaintiff, who was their biggest competitor and whistle-blower. Such actions are illicit, illegal and corrupt and clearly validate and verify the award of substantial damages to Plaintiff. As of now, over 98% of the White House, The U.S. Congress and Department of Energy staff and advisory contractors have been proven to have held conflicting competitive assets and have had motive, means and a historical record of attacks against competing interests.

Almost every citizen in America believes that the majority of public officials are engaged in such special interest crimes and the recent facts prove this. Plaintiff founded the companies, received the federal patents for and produced the first business models for some of the companies that deciding public officials were beholden to as competitors. Stupid competitors, who had stolen their technologies from others (per hated Plaintiff because those competitors could not come up with better technologies than Plaintiff had. They, and their crooked political lap dogs in The White House and Federal agencies decided they had to CHEAT RATHER THAN COMPETE!

Gavin Newsom’s wife emailed Harvey Weinstein asking for help dealing with California Gov’s cheating scandal two years AFTER movie magnate ‘raped and sexually assaulted her’, court hears

Gavin Newsom's wife emailed Harvey Weinstein for help dealing with California Gov's

Jennifer Siebel Newsom, wife of Democratic California Governor Gavin Newsom has confirmed that she is one of Weinstein’s accusers and will testify at trial. Jurors will hear how Siebel Newsom  emailed the movie magnate for advice about dealing with the media amid a scandal involving husband Gavin. Weinstein was charged with raping Siebel Newsom at a Beverly Hills hotel in 2004/5. Siebel, a documentary filmmaker and actor, began dating Gavin Newsom in 2006, and married him in 2008. He was elected governor in 2018. Already serving 23 years for sexual assault convictions in New York, Weinstein faces a potential life sentence if convicted in Los Angeles. He’s charged with 11 sexual assault-related counts involving five women between 2004 and 2013.