At Least 2,600 Government Officials Trade Stocks in Conflict of Interest Deals

Department of Defense officials trade stock from Chinese companies, EPA officials hold oil and gas shares, and almost 2,000 federal employees trade stock with Big Tech groups.

  • The Wall Street Journal released a Capital Assets report outlining the financial investments of numerous executive officials between 2016-2021, exposing the conflict of interest within several stock holdings.
  • The report highlighted thousands of officials who traded shares that fluctuate in value depending on the decisions made by their agencies.
  • These same agencies lobby for favorable policies against particular stocks.
  • For example, a top official of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) owned stock in oil companies, despite the EPA advocating for “green” technology.
  • “EPA employees and their family members collectively owned between $400,000 and nearly $2 million in shares of oil and gas companies on average each year between 2016 and 2021,” the report states.
  • The most prevalent stock in question was technology, with more than 1,800 government officials trading at least one stock between Apple, Google, Meta, and Amazon.
  • Within the Federal Trade Commission, financial reports concluded that several officials traded stocks in certain corporations before settling charges against those companies.
  • The report added that the Department of Defense had the most employees who “invested in Chinese stocks,” as well as several hundred employees from the State Department and White House investing between “$1.9 million and $6.6 million” a year in Chinese stock.
  • Don Fox, a former General Counsel of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics (OGE) said federal officials have “immense power and influence over things that impact the day-to-day lives of everyday Americans, such as public health and food safety, diplomatic relations and regulating trade,” but are largely unnoticed by the public.
  • U.S. regulations from 1992 state that federal employees should avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest, leading some officials to quickly sell off their stocks when entering government positions.
  • Michael Molina, former Deputy Chief of Staff in the EPA, made over 100 trades with energy and oil stocks. He claimed it was due to his financial advisor rather than his own decision, although he left the EPA after being “counseled…on his ethics,” as shared by an EPA spokeswoman.
  • Former Department of Defense employee Greg Zacharias purchased stock in Lockheed’s F-35 jet prior to the Pentagon spending $1 billion dollars on the airplane, therefore affecting Lockheed’s stocks.
  • Another former Department of Defense official, Mark Werner, held stock in the Chinese company Alibaba, long rumored to be affiliated with the Chinese military. Two weeks after this investment, the Department of the Treasury did not include Alibaba on the blacklist. Its stock rose 4%.
  • Shortly thereafter, officials encouraged the addition of Alibaba to the investment blacklist, although Werner claimed he was unaware of blacklist discussions while his trades were made. He left his position shortly before Trump banned Americans from holding stock in certain Chinese companies.
  • A former FDA official owned stock in various pharmaceutical and medical companies, all of which were on the FDA’s prohibited list. Stock is marked as “prohibited” in the FDA if it is “significantly regulated” by the organization.
  • Ms. Hardy-Mahoney of the National Labor Relations Board held stock in Telsa while also filing complaints against Elon Musk.
  • In 2021, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi turned down a bill that would prevent insider trading among members of Congress and their families, claiming support for a “free-market economy.”
  • The comment came after numerous Congressional leaders failed to disclose their stock transactions.
  • American Faith reported that Pelosi and her husband have made at least $30 million from insider trades between the “Big Tech firms she is responsible for regulating.”