As average Americans struggled to pay their bills in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, Congressman Greg Gianforte was investing $4.5 million in the stock market–with 138 trades recorded between the start of February and the start of April.
Analysis from the nonpartisan watchdog Campaign Legal Center shows that Gianforte was feverishly making stock trades as the seriousness of the pandemic was becoming apparent, and while he was reassuring investors that the market was fine.
The Campaign Legal Center argues the danger of letting members of Congress buy and sell stock while they are making critical choices about how the nation will respond to COVID-19:
Today, that ground for suspicion remains as members of Congress buy and sell stock for their personal portfolios, while simultaneously picking winners and losers in the market as they craft economic stimulus packages.
More to the point with Gianforte, they note that a blind trust–what Gianforte promised in 2017 and failed to deliver–would better protect the public interest and our confidence in elected officials:
This unprecedented transparency begs the question: do Americans want their elected legislators to avoid potential conflicts of interest by divesting themselves of individual stocks, or place them in blind trusts where they are not allowed to communicate with the independent trustee?
Gianforte–already the second richest member of Congress–chose to lie to Montanans about putting his money in a blind trust. He chose to continue massive investment while the country was facing a crisis unprecedented in modern history.
Attorney General Tim Fox’s campaign probably overreached when they accused Gianforte of insider trading. Still, they are correct to question the ethics of a Congressman who lied to the people of Montana and to examine how someone who invested more money in two months than most Montanans will see in a lifetime could possibly represent the interests of the people of our state.