Bryson Morgan Weighs in on Buying Stocks and Congressional Ethics

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

This spring, Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Butler, was front and center on Capitol Hill in pressing the Trump administration to launch an investigation into foreign steel imports that had long threatened the fate of a steel plant in Butler that employed about 1,400 of his constituents just down the road from his home.

. . .

Although members may characterize an investment in companies in their districts as aligning their financial interests with their constituents, the investment “undermines their ability to effectively represent their constituents,” said Bryson B. Morgan, who served as an investigative counsel at the U.S. House of Representatives Office of Congressional Ethics from 2013 to 2015.

Mr. Morgan said that the size of member or spouse’s wealth — and the motivations behind any given stock trade — is outside of the core ethical concerns he considered when prosecuting cases in the House.

“His spouse’s sizable investment in the company significantly impairs his ability to advance that company’s interests in Washington without running afoul of conflict of interest rules,” said Mr. Morgan, currently a political law attorney at Caplin & Drysdale in Washington.

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