State Rep. Andrea Salinas, the Democrat running for Oregon’s new congressional district, pledged to never trade individual stocks should she vanquish Republican opponent Mike Erickson in the November election.
Stock trading by members of Congress has become a hot-button issue for voters in the wake of several scandals. The U.S. Department of Justice investigated U.S. Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) for trades he made before the pandemic, when he dumped more than half of his family’s equity portfolio. The DOJ investigated whether Burr, then chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, relied on privileged information to make the trades. The agency didn’t press charges.
The decision to eschew stock trading was an easy one for Salinas because she doesn’t own any individual stocks and owns only mutual funds in her retirement account, she said.
“I love the idea of limiting trading,” Salinas said in an endorsement interview with WW this week. “I come from a very middle-class family, and we’re still very middle class. We don’t have those kinds of assets. Our home is our only asset outside of our retirement savings.”
Erickson’s campaign didn’t return an email seeking comment on whether he would avoid trading individual stocks. (He didn’t attend the endorsement interview either.)
Earlier this month, The New York Times examined trades for every member of Congress between 2019 to 2021. It found 97 legislators out of 535 with questionable trades done by themselves or by family members, including two of Oregon’s longest-serving Democratic leaders: U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden and U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer.
Wyden made the list because his wife bought and sold shares of Exxon Mobil and Shell while he sat on committees that handled energy issues, the Times said. Wyden also made trades in companies run by executives who testified before the Senate Finance Committee while Wyden was the top Democrat on the committee, the Times said.
A spokesman for Wyden told the Times that he and his wife keep their finances separate.
Blumenauer made the list because of trades by his wife, too, the Times said. She traded shares of CVS Health and UnitedHealth Group, both of which offer Medicare Advantage plans. Blumenauer sits on the House Ways and Means Committee, which has authority over Medicare, the Times reported.
Blumenauer himself purchased stock in defense company Raytheon on Feb. 24, the day Russia invaded Ukraine, the Times said. He sold the shares on March 14, the Times added. Among other weaponry, Raytheon makes the Tomahawk cruise missile.
The trade was the result of a “miscommunication,” Blumenauer’s office said.
“The congressman has long believed that members of Congress should not trade individual stocks,” a Blumenauer spokesperson told the Times. “Due to a miscommunication, his financial advisers purchased some stock on his behalf. When this was reported to him, he immediately ordered it sold (at a loss) and gave unequivocal direction that he should not hold any individual stock.”
Recent filings show that Blumenauer’s wife still owns stock, the Times said.