Op-Ed: It’s time for Josh Gottheimer, the rest of Congress to stop trading stocks

Op-Ed: It’s time for Josh Gottheimer, the rest of Congress to stop trading stocks

As a Marine who served in war zones for limited pay, I was always disgusted that many of our public “servants” back home in Washington were using insider information to make millions of dollars in the stock market while regular Americans struggled to get by.

That is not public service, it is a public sham.

When I returned home from Afghanistan, I went back to school on the GI Bill and eventually found a job at a bank. It was an entry-level position, but even at the bottom of the corporate ladder, I had major restrictions placed on me when I wanted to buy or sell stock. It made a lot of sense: with more information than the average American at my fingertips, it would not have been fair for me to make certain investments and profit where others could not.

The information I had at the bank pales in comparison to the information Washington elites have at their disposal. And yet, they trade freely and shamelessly.

Nancy Pelosi recently refused to hold a vote on bipartisan legislation that would have placed stock restrictions on our elected officials. My opponent, Josh Gottheimer, must have breathed a sigh of relief. Despite a salary of $174,000 as a representative of the Fifth Congressional District, Josh bought and sold over $60 million in call options last year.

Not $60 million in his lifetime. Not $60 million during his six years in Congress. But $60 million last year alone.

And now, it has come to light that Josh has been creating pop-up fundraising committees to funnel private equity money into his campaign coffers. Where is the honesty, the integrity, and the transparency that we, his constituents, deserve?

I believe service is sacrifice. I believe that politicians who make tens of millions of dollars in Washington while claiming to represent the American public during a period of runaway inflation are not simply a “part” of the problem; they are the problem.

Last month, I signed a pledge to fully divest myself of all stocks if I am elected to Congress. This basic promise of transparency is the bare minimum a candidate should be able to guarantee his or her constituents.

I therefore call on Josh Gottheimer to immediately cease his self-serving trading schemes and sign my divestment pledge. I strongly encourage my primary opponents Frank Pallotta and Fred Schneiderman to follow my lead as well.

This is the least we can do to restore honor and trust to the position we all aspire to hold.