Public service should not be a money maker. It should pay a decent wage but bonuses and stock portfolios (and other investment vehicles) should be prohibited. If you want to get rich, get out of public service. If public servants accumulate wealth, while in office (and perhaps later), additional scrutiny should be applied to ascertain why.
This policy should extend to all public employees with access to pertinent information. It is not a difficult policy, put any portfolio in a blind trust. Insider trading is illegal for a good reason and while Martha was nailed for it, my guess is much activity goes unpunished and significantly more goes undiscovered. It is tough to prove.
The conflict of interest is clear. Billions of dollars in appropriations are an enticement on its own, but include potential changes to current laws or regulations and windfalls can be substantial. Investors know how law changes can affect future earnings so timing is everything. If, as a legislator, information is gathered about a potential law change that will benefit a particular industry, it is not rocket science to invest in this industry. The simple example is the jab. If the jab is mandated, there are only three companies that make this product.
This is another reason why billionaires should not be elected to office. It takes money to make money is an old saying, but insider information allows for greater dollars to be harvested if the investment is substantial. If a quick twenty percent can be made and one person has ten grand and the other person ten million, both are guilty of insider trading, but the crime is substantially different. While neither person is worthy of public office and both have committed a crime, there is a difference.
This is another reason for citizen oversight of elected officials. It is not simply the stock trading, but ensuring law changes and rule creation do not favor specific industries, but are for the common good. If Krysten and Joe were offered lucrative VP positions upon exiting the Senate, would it sway how they feel about rule changes or potential legislation? The hope is always no, but we all have to make a living and as the saying goes, I would rather cry in a Mercedes than at the bus stop.
As the fourth estate spirals to the depths of hell, the citizens must take responsibility to act as gatekeeper and auditor to elected and appointed officials and the actions they take. What are they doing and why? I don’t need tax returns before they enter office, but I do want to ensure they (and everyone they know) are not profiting while in office, or returning to life, after elected/appointed office, to lucrative positions that they could never have achieved prior to being elected. The country must have elected officials that want to enact laws that benefit the people and push the country towards innovation and prosperity. We should demand laws be enacted to hold Congress to a higher standard. It is not “free market” if you have information not available to the average citizen.
Elected office should not be about improving portfolio performance.