Live updates: Voters head to the polls for the US midterm elections with the balance of the House and Senate at stake

2022 General Embeds
  • America is heading to the polls Tuesday to vote in the 2022 midterm elections. 
  • The outcome of the election will determine the balance of power in both the House and the Senate. 
  • Insider will have real-time live election results on thousands of races across the country. 
Trump aides scrambled to stop him announcing his presidential candidacy on the eve of the midterms and upending the election: Report

Former president Donald Trump at a campaign event at Sioux Gateway Airport on November 3, 2022 in Sioux City, Iowa.

Aides to former President Donald Trump persuaded him not to announce his 2024 presidential campaign on Monday, fearing it could upend the midterm elections, The Washington Post reported.

According to three sources who spoke to the Post on condition of anonymity, Trump had touted the idea of formally announcing his bid for the 2024 presidency at a rally for GOP Senate candidate JD Vance in Ohio on Monday night. 

The suggestion prompted a scramble by top Republicans and Trump some aides to stop any announcement, two of the sources told the publication. Other aides, it reported, wanted Trump to go ahead.

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What to watch for on Election Day 2022

voting 43
“I Voted” stickers are displayed at a polling place in Cheyenne, Wyo. on Aug. 16, 2022.

Today America will vote on the midterm elections, with the consequences of results poised to reverberate across the government for years to come.

Insider will have real-time live election results on thousands of races across the country, including every House, Senate, Governor, and State Legislative election happening in the United States.

The most significant story is unfolding in dozens of House races across the country, as the Democrats’ tenuous control of the chamber is being challenged by the GOP. Midterms tend to be disastrous for the incumbent president’s party, and this election has control of the House very much up for grabs. Insider is tracking close to 90 of the most consequential races. 

The Senate is currently split 50-50, and each party wants to get control of the upper chamber. Senators serve for six years, which means the impacts of this election will reverberate through at least 2028. The contest for control of the Senate might not be decided on election night, as it’ll likely come down to just a few individual races and counting could continue for several days.

There are also dozens of gubernatorial elections. These races are full of potential contenders for 2024, and, more consequentially, whoever wins the governor’s race in a number of key swing states will have control over the levers of power around elections. 

Lastly, with the Dobbs decision at the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, a number of gubernatorial races will end up functionally deciding the legality and availability of abortion in any number of states.

This is why this cycle has a number of critically important state legislative races. As power to regulate the right to choose has been turned over to individual states, the battles over legislative chambers are of significant importance this cycle.

Lastly, many states will have ballot referenda for their citizens to consider. These run the gamut, with some potentially legalizing marijuana, others establishing or stripping citizens’  right to abortion access, and others opening up multi-billion dollar gambling markets.

Insider will be closely monitoring the coverage on all of this today, tonight, and through the final calls of the races. The first polls close at 6 p.m. EST, come along and follow all the critical races of this election here.

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One chart shows the most common COVID-19 booster side effects from Pfizer, Moderna, and J&J’s vaccines

healthcare worker in mask, smiling, getting booster shot.
A Thai healthcare worker receives a booster dose of Pfizer’s vaccine in Bangkok on August 9, 2021.

Second and third doses of COVID-19 vaccines generally produce similar side effects but there are some slight differences.

In September, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gave the first comparison between booster shots of all three vaccines available in the US: Pfizer and Moderna (both mRNA shots), and Johnson & Johnson (an adenovirus vaccine).

It’s one of the most comprehensive looks at how people are responding to boosters to date.

Broadly, the CDC found that people who’d received three doses of either Pfizer or Moderna saw more local reactions — pain, itchiness, redness, or swelling at the injection site — after dose three compared to dose two. Other side effects such as fatigue, muscle aches, or headaches were less common, affecting 74% after their third dose, compared with 77% after dose two.

A second dose of J&J’s vaccine yielded the fewest side effects of all: Only 10% of J&J booster recipients said their side effects prevented them from performing normal daily activities — usually on the day after their booster shot — while the rest said they were able to go about their day as normal.

By comparison, 28% of Pfizer or Moderna booster recipients said the shots hindered their daily routine. However, the study included far more data on mRNA boosters — 12,000 people, compared to 48 who received two J&J doses.

The following table shows how booster shots affected people who got three doses of Moderna, three doses of Pfizer, or two doses of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, according to CDC data.

Aside from local reactions at the injection site, fatigue was most common among people who received a Pfizer or Moderna booster.

Overall side effects were more prevalent after Moderna's third dose: Half of Moderna booster recipients reported muscle aches and headaches, and around 60% reported fatigue.

Meanwhile, less than 40% of Pfizer booster recipients reported muscle aches and headaches and around 50% reported fatigue.

Just one-quarter of those who received a J&J booster had injection site reactions, compared with 70% who got a Pfizer booster and 80% who got a Moderna booster. And 20% of J&J booster recipients reported muscle aches and headaches.

The CDC recommends boosters for all adults and allows you to mix and match

The CDC now recommends booster shots for all Americans ages 16 and older. People who received two doses of Pfizer's or Moderna's vaccine should get boosted at least six months after their second shot, the CDC advises, whereas J&J recipients can get boosted as early as two months after their first dose.

The CDC has also approved a "mix and match" approach so people can select a booster of a different vaccine type or different manufacturer than their original dose.

An October study funded by the US National Institutes of Health (which has yet to be peer-reviewed) found that mix and match boosters yielded similar side effects to initial vaccine doses. More than half of the study's 458 participants reported malaise, headaches, and muscle aches after their booster while more than 70% experienced mild arm pain. 

A UK study similarly identified fatigue, headaches, and pain at the injection site as the most common side effects. The study looked at nearly 2,900 people who had received two doses of Pfizer or AstraZeneca, followed by one of seven different COVID-19 boosters. Overall, side effects from boosters were more common in people ages 30 to 69 than those ages 70 and up, the study found — regardless of which vaccines the participants received.

Fatigue, headaches, and muscles aches were also common after first and second doses

The mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna instruct the body to produce a harmless viral protein, then develop antibodies against it. The first dose of these vaccines generally produces the mildest side effects, since our bodies are being introduced to the instructions and the resulting protein for the first time.

By the time we receive a second and third dose, our bodies have learned to recognize that protein quickly, so are ready to attack it. That's why side effects are generally more pronounced. (If you've had COVID-19 before, though, your first dose may yield more intense side effects than your second or third, according to one preprint.)  

The following chart shows common vaccine side effects based on your age group, vaccine manufacturer, and which dose you received. Data is from each vaccine's clinical trial.

As with a booster shot, fatigue, headaches, and muscles aches were common after doses one and two.

In general, older people experience fewer side effects than younger adults because immune responses gradually weaken with age. That's also the reason why older people are in particular need of boosters: While vaccines still protect against severe disease for now, the Omicron variant seems to increase the risk of reinfection relative to other coronavirus strains.

It's also better than the original virus at evading antibodies from two vaccine doses, early lab studies suggest.

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Sen. Elizabeth Warren blasts ‘brazenness’ of lawmakers who flouted a federal law meant to stop congressional insider trading

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., speaks as Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell testify during a Senate Banking Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., speaks as Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell testify during a Senate Banking Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021

  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren called out the “brazenness” of lawmakers who flouted a federal disclosure law.
  • An Insider investigation found that dozens of members of Congress violated the STOCK Act. 
  • The “Conflicted Congress” project found members of Congress trading stocks in industries they’ve criticized. 

Sen. Elizabeth Warren denounced the “brazenness” of members of Congress who have flouted a federal law meant to stem insider trading in Congress and called for stronger enforcement in response to a new Insider investigation. 

“Conflicted Congress,” a five-month Insider investigation, found 49 members of Congress and 182 senior-level congressional staffers have violated the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act, commonly known as the STOCK Act. The 2012 federal conflict-of-interest law requires members and staff to disclose their stock trades and seeks to prevent those in the halls of power from personally cashing in on the information they learn behind closed doors. 

The investigation found dozens of cases of lawmakers trading stocks in industries and companies, like big tech firms, pharmaceutical companies, and fossil fuel producers, that they directly oversee or have publicly criticized. 

“We need both tougher laws and enforcement of those laws,” the Massachusetts Democrat told Insider in an interview at the Capitol on Tuesday. “The American people should never have to guess whether or not an elected official is advancing an issue or voting on a bill based on what’s good for the country or what’s good for their own personal financial interests.” 

Warren called out the “brazenness of people who think it’s okay to be in a position of trust to represent the people of this country, and at the same time to be working to advance your own financial interests,” adding, “it’s just wrong.” 

When it comes to financial wrongdoing, Congress acts its own policeman, resulting in little accountability in many cases.

Warren, a consumer protection lawyer who taught at Harvard Law School, has consistently advocated for stronger financial transparency requirements for members of Congress and government officials. In 2020, she re-introduced a bill to ban members of Congress from trading individual stocks.  

Warren told Insider that for now, the solution “starts with just enforcement.” 

“Bring the charges, pull them out. Make it clear publicly,” she said. “The strongest enforcement is to make known what they are doing and for the voters to retire them forcibly.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Some of the same members of Congress pushing to restrict cigarettes and vapes are quietly investing in tobacco giants

The Capitol building with a rainbow gradient on top of it and cigarettes instead of columns on the building.
  • Smoking remains the largest preventable cause of death.
  • Members of Congress have nevertheless invested in tobacco companies.
  • Some lawmakers who have invested in such companies often speak out against tobacco.

Weeks before the coronavirus pandemic became a public-health crisis in America, Congress was fixated on another respiratory calamity.

A mysterious lung illness was killing dozens of people and sickening thousands more. It seemed to be linked to counterfeit vapes — particularly those containing THC, the high-inducing compound in marijuana.

That drove Congress to action. The Democratic-led House passed a bill to ban all flavored tobacco, including menthol cigarettes and all kinds of e-cigarettes meant to offer smokers tasty alternatives.

The author of that bill was Democratic Rep. Frank Pallone of New Jersey, who held particular influence over public-health policy as the chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee. 


But while Pallone was shepherding the bill through Congress and accusing Big Tobacco of preying on children, his wife, Sarah Pallone, held up to $15,000 worth of shares in the tobacco giant Philip Morris International. The anti-tobacco legislation would have banned Philip Morris products such as Marlboro menthol cigarettes but benefited the company’s new Iqos brand of heated flavorless tobacco, which had recently received approval from the Food and Drug Administration.


Mary Werden, Pallone’s spokeswoman, did not answer questions about whether the investment presented a conflict of interest but said only that Sarah Pallone no longer owned stock in Philip Morris after selling off her shares in August. The stock appeared to be held as part of a trust and paid up to $1,000 in dividends in 2020. Annual filings show that Sarah Pallone also sold up to $15,000 worth of shares in Altria, the parent company of Philip Morris USA, in 2019. 

It’s not clear when she first purchased shares in the companies, but both Altria and Philip Morris stock appear in the congressman’s annual financial-disclosure forms from 2012 to 2019. 


Pallone’s situation illustrates how federal lawmakers’ personal finances can clash with their political persona and public policy positions.

Federal disclosures that Insider reviewed indicated that at least 16 members of Congress or their families had invested in tobacco companies from the start of 2020 through 2021. The tally is part of the exhaustive Conflicted Congress project, in which Insider reviewed nearly 9,000 financial-disclosure reports for every sitting lawmaker and their top-ranking staffers.

Pallone isn’t the only anti-tobacco champion in Congress with personal financial ties to tobacco giants, who together spend millions of dollars annually lobbying the federal government and whose shares have largely risen this year.

Rep. Ed Case, a Democrat of Hawaii, has cosponsored a bill to raise tobacco taxes. In May he sold up to $100,000 worth of stock in Altria. Case’s office did not respond to a request for comment. 

Rep. Josh Gottheimer, a Democrat of New Jersey who has declared a “war on youth vaping” and cosponsored Pallone’s bill, sold up to $50,000 worth of shares in Philip Morris International and as much as $50,000 worth of Altria shares in February. CQ Roll Call first reported the sales

Altria owns 35% of Juul Labs, which has cornered the vaping market and often gets blamed for the rise in teen vaping. 

Gottheimer’s spokeswoman, Alexandra Caffrey, said that a third party managed his portfolio and that he received only statements of transactions. She did not name the third party or say whether he’d given any direction to the money manager about which stocks to avoid. 

“All decisions related to buying and selling of securities are done so without Josh’s approval,” Caffrey said. 

The American Vaping Association, an advocacy group, panned the lawmakers’ investments. Smaller e-cigarette companies have complained that severe restrictions on their products benefit corporate tobacco giants trying to push them out of the market. Philip Morris, Altria, and British American Tobacco have all expanded into smokeless tobacco.

“Investments in tobacco companies should not per se be viewed with hostility,” said Gregory Conley, the group’s president. “What is worthy of derision is members of Congress profiting off of incumbent tobacco manufacturers while cheering on measures to ban smoke-free nicotine products that directly compete with these corporate behemoths, as both Rep. Pallone and Rep. Gottheimer have done.” 

Roy Blunt
Sen. Roy Blunt, a Republican from Missouri, is married to a lobbyist who holds stock in Philip Morris International.

Tuberville and Upton among tobacco investors

Members of Congress must disclose all their stock trades in a public database within no more than 45 days of the transaction. But they’re still allowed to sit on congressional committees, write legislation, and vote on bills that might affect them financially.

Sen. Tommy Tuberville, a freshman Republican of Alabama who sits on the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, which has authority over healthcare regulations and health agencies, holds up to $100,000 worth of Philip Morris International stock when counting both an account for himself and a joint account, his latest annual disclosures show.


His spokeswoman, Ryann DuRant, previously told Insider that her boss did not personally make his own stock trades and had “long had financial advisors who actively manage his portfolio without his day-to-day involvement.” But DuRant has not said whether Tuberville gives any direction to his advisors about which stocks to avoid, and when Insider followed up with her she said she didn’t have anything new to add to her previous statement. 

Another senator with financial family ties to tobacco giants is Roy Blunt, a Republican of Missouri who’s set to retire when his term expires in 2022. Blunt’s wife, Abigail Perlman Blunt, is a lobbyist for the food giant Kraft Heinz, but when they got married in 2003 she was a lobbyist for Altria. (Altria used to own Kraft Foods but severed ties in 2007.)

Blunt’s latest annual financial disclosures show that Perlman Blunt holds up to $250,000 worth of Philip Morris International stock that in 2020 paid between $5,001 and $15,000 in dividends. (Members of Congress are required to report such holdings only in broad ranges.) Blunt has been one of the most effective proponents of expanding federal funding for medical research; his office did not respond to questions about whether that work was out of step with his wife’s tobacco investments. Lobbying disclosures show that Perlman Blunt does not lobby the Senate. 


A 2020 annual disclosure showed that Amey Miller, the wife of Rep. Fred Upton, a Republican of Michigan, held shares in Philip Morris, but it didn’t specify which division. Upton, who is on the Energy and Commerce Committee and previously chaired the powerful panel from 2011 to 2017, has voted to ban smoking on airplanes. His communications director, Billy Fuerst, described him as the “decisive swing vote to ban smoking in the workplace.” 

Fuerst said that Upton hadn’t personally invested in Philip Morris but that the shares were transferred to Miller when her mother died years ago.

“He also supported the STOCK Act and lists all of his transactions pursuant to federal law,” Fuerst said. 

Despite huge strides in reducing tobacco use in the US over the past five decades, smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death, responsible for more than 480,000 deaths a year in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The World Health Organization has said people who smoke are also more likely than nonsmokers to develop a serious case of COVID-19. 

In 2020, tobacco companies together spent more than $28 million to lobby the federal government, including Congress, according to an analysis by OpenSecrets, a nonpartisan organization that tracks money in politics. But overall, Congress has moved toward stronger tobacco restrictions. In late 2019, President Donald Trump signed a law that raised the legal smoking age to 21 from 18. 

Rep. Virginia Foxx, a North Carolina Republican, is among the lawmakers who have invested in large tobacco companies.

Supporters of e-cigarettes also invest in tobacco giants

Some members of Congress who’ve invested in large tobacco companies have cosponsored legislation to prevent the FDA from banning most e-cigarettes, such as Republican Reps. Virginia Foxx and Rep. David Rouzer, both of North Carolina, and Rep. John Rutherford, a Republican of Florida. 

Rutherford holds shares of Philip Morris International, Altria, and British American Tobacco. Each investment is worth between $1,000 and $15,000, his latest annual disclosure showed.

Last year, Rouzer praised the Department of Agriculture for allowing tobacco growers to receive COVID-19 relief funds under Trump. During the 2020 election cycle, Rouzer was among the largest House recipients of tobacco-linked campaign cash, receiving $30,600 from PACs and individuals who work in the industry. 

The tobacco industry spent more than $8 million to support various candidates for Congress and the White House, 69% of whom were Republicans, according to OpenSecrets. Large tobacco companies such as Altria also have political action committees — OpenSecrets data shows that in the 2020 election cycle Altria’s PAC gave $485,500 to Republican committees and $241,000 to Democratic ones.

Rep. Rob Wittman, a Republican of Virginia, has also been supportive of the vaping industry while investing up to $15,000 in Philip Morris International. Through his spokeswoman, Sarah Newsome, Wittman said a financial advisor managed his stocks using a third-party investment manager “who implement trades at their own discretion without consulting with or getting input from their clients.” 

“Mr. Wittman believes members of Congress should not improperly benefit from their role,” Newsome said. “He supports measures to avoid conflicts of interest. He has placed his investments in the care of a brokerage to avoid any perceived ethical issues. He remains committed to accountability and transparency in government.”

Wittman, like all members of the House and the Senate, has the option to place his financial assets in a “qualified blind trust,” which Congress describes as the “most comprehensive approach” to “eliminate conflicts of interests and the appearance of them.” But such blind trusts can be costly and time-consuming to formalize, and Wittman — along with most other members of Congress — has not established one.

Only 10 lawmakers have taken the option to use a qualified blind trust, Insider found.

The financial arrangement allows members to invest their money without any knowledge of or power to make decisions about stock trades. Rep. Dean Phillips, a Democrat of Minnesota, held up to $15,000 worth of Philip Morris International shares but placed all his investments into a blind trust after an ethics complaint accused him of making timely investments before the pandemic. 

The other tobacco investors in Congress include Republican Reps. Pat Fallon, Pete Sessions, and August Pfluger, all of Texas, and Republican Reps. Diana Harshbarger of Tennessee and Carol Devine Miller of West Virginia. None responded to a request for comment.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Some federal lawmakers and their staffers are all in on cryptocurrency speculation as Congress mulls how (or how not) to regulate the coins

US Senator from Wyoming, Cynthia Lummis.
Sen. Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming has invested in cryptocurrency.

  • At least five lawmakers invested in brokerage firms involved in crypto or other digital assets in 2020 and 2021.
  • At least 21 congressional staffers have also invested in the market.
  • Crypto experts predicted that the number of federal lawmakers investing in crypto would grow.

Lawmakers are torn about how to regulate cryptocurrency. But that hasn’t stopped some members of Congress and their senior staffers from investing in it.

At least one senator and four US House representatives have bought stock in cryptocurrency-related companies or invested with brokerage firms that work with this emerging market, according to an Insider analysis of federal records detailing the lawmakers’ personal finances for 2020.

Meanwhile, Congress has been introducing legislative proposals aimed at better regulating crypto. 

Sen. Cynthia Lummis, a Republican of Wyoming who sits on the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, is an outlier among her colleagues. In 2020, she reported investing up to $250,000 in Unchained Capital, a bitcoin-based financial-services company. She’s among a handful of members of Congress who accept cryptocurrency campaign contributions.


But Lummis was several days late reporting a purchase in August of up to $100,000 in Bitcoin. Lummis’s spokeswoman Abegail Cave told Insider that the Wyoming senator “has gone above and beyond to comply with federal law and Senate Ethics requirements regarding financial disclosures.”

Rep. Jeff Van Drew, a Republican of New Jersey, reported up to $250,000 in “an investment trust” operated by Grayscale, the world’s largest digital-currency asset-management firm. The office of Van Dew did not respond to Insiders comment on what kind of investment trust he has with the firm.

Democratic Rep. Jake Auchincloss, a 33-year-old freshman of Massachusetts, reported up to $15,000 in Flipside Crypto Investor Holdings.


Rep. Barry Moore, a Republican of Alabama, reported investing up to $15,000 with a brokerage firm in Coffee, Alabama. The description of the firm on his financial disclosure said “crypto currency.” His office did not respond to Insider’s request for comment on which brokerage firm he was using. His disclosure said the firm paid $2,501 to $5,000 in dividends in 2020.

Jim Newman, the husband of Rep. Marie Newman, a Democrat of Illinois, has traded stock in the cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase at least 16 times. The most recent trade, a sale valued at $50,001 to $100,000, occurred in November.


Also in November, Newman’s husband purchased up to $50,000 worth of stock in Grayscale Bitcoin Trust.

Congressional ethics officials say that the “most comprehensive approach” for lawmakers to “eliminate conflicts of interests and the appearance of them” is to form what’s known as a qualified blind trust, a financial vehicle the House or Senate ethics committee approves that a trustee manages independently.

Most members of Congress have not established qualified blind trusts, which are often expensive and time-consuming to establish.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell at the US Capitol on October 07, 2021.
A staff director for the Senate Republican Communications Center under Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell invests in crypto.

Staffers charge into crypto

Lawmakers are not the only ones getting in on the cryptocurrency action.

Insider identified 21 high-ranking congressional staffers or their spouses who in 2020 and 2021 bought or sold cryptocurrencies, including ethereum and dogecoin, a cryptocurrency originally created as a joke among crypto enthusiasts that’s grown in value over the past year.

The tally is part of the exhaustive Conflicted Congress project, in which Insider reviewed nearly 9,000 financial-disclosure reports for every sitting lawmaker and their top-ranking staffers.

Senior staffers and some other aides on Capitol Hill are bound by federal law to file timely reports about all their stock transactions and other outside earnings if they make more than $132,552 annually. That’s generally the salary minimum for chiefs of staff; the staffers and aides also include chief counsels, legislative directors, and staff members who work on committees and advise lawmakers on policy.

The extent to which other Capitol Hill office employees with lower salaries hold cryptocurrency and crypto-related stocks is unknown because they are not required to disclose it.

Kristin Walker, Lummis’ chief of staff, told Insider that she started investing in bitcoin in the summer of 2020, before Lummis was elected and before she came to work on the Hill.

“Wyoming has been at the forefront of digital assets for the past few years, and I learned about it through Wyoming’s efforts,” Walker said.

Another crypto investor was Scott Sloofman, the staff director for the Senate Republican Communications Center under Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. He purchased between $1,001 to $15,000-worth of Coinbase shares in April. He did not respond to Insider’s inquiry about his investments. 

More senior staffers than lawmakers have invested in cryptocurrency does not come as a surprise to Ron Hammond, the director of government affairs for the Blockchain Association. 

“There has been a massive uptick in staffers who either have crypto or are really interested in the issue, and I think it’s more of a generational thing,” Hammond, who worked on Capitol Hill as a former congressional staffer for many years.

The average age of members of the House at the beginning of the current 117th Congress was 58.4 years, according to the Library of Congress. The average age for senators was 64.3 years.

The idea of lawmakers and congressional staffers investing in cryptocurrency is exciting, Hammond said. 

“For those who want to get involved in crypto legislation, it’s important to maybe have some foot in it,” he said. “It does help increase your knowledge about how everything is supposed to work or you know what some flaws may be.”

Elizabeth Warren
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat of Massachusetts, is a crypto skeptic.

Congress tries to get a grip on digital assets

Crypto chatter has ratcheted up on Capitol Hill in recent months as supporters and opponents of digital assets sketch out their respective visions about what the future might hold. 

In early June, Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia and Republican Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri proposed tightening cryptocurrency rules to better trace electronic payments to ransomware attackers

A few weeks later, Rep. Maxine Waters, a Democrat of California who also chairs the House Committee on Financial Services, told attendees at a subcommittee hearing that she and her colleagues are “committed to providing not only more transparency in this minimally-regulated industry, but to ensuring that appropriate safeguards are in place.”

“So we have begun a thorough examination of this marketplace,” the 16-term lawmaker announced during a two-hour discussion weighing whether cryptocurrencies would lead to financial independence or fiscal ruin. 

Along the way, House lawmakers quietly passed a bipartisan bill instructing the Federal Trade Commission to provide Congress with recommendations “to further protect consumers from unfair or deceptive acts or practices in the digital token marketplace.” 

Come late July, Rep. Elissa Slotkin, a Democrat of Michigan who also chairs the House Homeland Security subcommittee on intelligence and counterterrorism, urged administration officials to lay out their wish list now for stronger cryptocurrency curbs. “If you need changes to legislation, if you need resources, we want to hear more from you, not less,” Slotkin said during a 90-minute discussion tagged “terrorism and digital financing.” 

Earlier this month, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a crypto skeptic who’s characterized it as “unreliable tech” with “unpredictable fees,” said the industry harmed the planet by necessitating huge, energy-sucking mines, computer facilities designed to solve complex math problems to obtain the digital coins.


“Cryptomining has huge environmental costs & is raising energy prices for consumers. Bitcoin alone consumes as much energy as Washington state,” the Massachusetts Democrat tweeted.

A few days later, House lawmakers quizzed the CEOs of a half-dozen crypto-focused companies about their business practices.

The six witnesses, who handle everything from the logistics of mining bitcoin to branching out into other blockchain-based investments, spent four hours answering questions about the pros and cons of cryptocurrencies and their place in the modern economy. 

Daniel Gallagher, the chief legal officer for the financial-services company Robinhood, tried to manage expectations ahead of the hearing, telling CNBC that “it’s a stretch to believe that there will be legislation coming out on crypto anytime soon.”

Representative Tom Emmer sitting down at the House Financial Services Committee meeting
Rep. Tom Emmer, a Republican from Minnesota, is a cryptocurrency advocate whose re-election campaign committee accepts bitcoin. His personal financial records indicate that he personally does not invest in crypto.

Crypto associations bulk up lobbying efforts

The flurry of talks surrounding regulation has prompted more cryptocurrency associations to strengthen their lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill.

By August, cryptocurrency interests had collectively spent $2.4 million lobbying the federal government, including Congress, according to OpenSecrets, a nonpartisan research organization that tracks money in politics.

The interests lobbied against portions of the bipartisan infrastructure bill that would impose new tax-reporting requirements on crypto brokers that could pave the way for stronger regulations.

The lobbying efforts were unsuccessful. President Joe Biden signed the infrastructure bill into law in November. The crypto-broker policy is expected to raise $28 billion over 10 years to help fund infrastructure projects, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation.

Five years ago, the House created the bipartisan Congressional Blockchain Caucus to consider policymaking. One of the leaders of the group was Mick Mulvaney, a Republican congressman from South Carolina who later became President Donald Trump’s chief of staff. 

The current chairmen of the caucus are GOP Reps. Tom Emmer of Minnesota and David Schweikert of Arizona and Democratic Reps. Bill Foster of Illinois and Darren Soto of Florida. None reported holding any cryptocurrencies in their 2020 financial disclosures.

Emmer told MinnPost in October that he started reading about crypto after one of his staffers left the book “The Age of Cryptocurrency” on his desk back in 2015 or 2016. He has introduced several crypto-related bills, including the Securities Clarity Act, which would allow regulators to categorize cryptocurrencies as either a commodity, a security, or a currency. 

But overall, lawmakers have been slow to embrace cryptocurrency because it hasn’t been around for a long time, Najah Roberts, the founder of Crypto Blockchain Plug, a brick-and-mortar cryptocurrency exchange and education center, told Insider.

“They are afraid of that technology,” she said.

Roberts said she hoped more lawmakers would invest in the market.

“It will be great if they do because then that will give them a better understanding on how to acquire the asset, how they feel about securing the asset,” she said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Meet the 25 wealthiest members of Congress

Rick Scott, Michael McCaul, Darrell Issa, Vern Buchanan, and Dianne Feinstein with dollar signs in the background
From Left: Rick Scott, Michael McCaul, Darrell Issa, Vern Buchanan, Dianne Feinstein

  • We estimated the net worth of members of Congress by analyzing financial-disclosure reports.
  • The reports cover 2020 and provide the most up-to-date estimate of members’ net worth.
  • The wealthiest 15 members were worth at least $1.3 billion, half of Congress’ wealth.

Each year, every member of Congress is required to file a detailed report disclosing their financial holdings. Designed for transparency, the disclosures provide insight into each member of Congress’ wealth and assets — and occasionally reveal potential conflicts of interest and violations of federal law.

Insider compiled members’ annual disclosures filed this year, analyzing thousands of pages of documents to estimate the minimum and maximum net worth of members of the US Senate and the US House of Representatives, including nonvoting delegates. Members disclose the value of their assets in broad ranges.

The documents cover 2020, a year in which the world’s richest people grew their fortunes by trillions of dollars. The 2020 financial disclosures are the most up-to-date financial documentation from Congress — disclosures from 2021 are not required to be filed until mid-May. Filers for the 2020 fiscal year were allotted an extra three months to submit their disclosures because of the pandemic.

Three newer members of Congress — Reps. Troy Carter, Melanie Stansbury, and Jake Ellzey — have not filed their official financial-disclosure reports. Insider used these members’ “candidate reports,” some of which include financial data from 2021.

Members of Congress come from a wide range of backgrounds — from local politics to business and entrepreneurship to professional sports — and their fortunes vary greatly. The wealthiest 15 members together had an estimated net worth of at least $1.3 billion, accounting for half of Congress’ total estimated wealth.

Read more about Insider’s methodology.

Starting at number 25, here are the wealthiest members of Congress based on their minimum estimated net worth:

25. Rep. Sara Jacobs, a Democrat from California: $21,428,125

Rep. Sara Jacobs
Rep. Sara Jacobs

A newcomer to Congress in 2021, nearly all of Jacobs’ wealth is stored in a trust that was created in 2009. The trust contains government securities, mutual funds, and more than $6 million in stock of Qualcomm, a semiconductor company co-founded by her grandfather, Irwin M. Jacobs. 

Other notable stocks owned by Jacobs includes more than $100,000 invested in stocks of Apple, Microsoft, and Mastercard.

Jacobs listed one liability in her financial disclosure: a mortgage on a Washington, DC, property worth at least $500,000.

24. Rep. John Rose, a Republican from Tennessee: $23,362,065

Rep John Rose
Rep. John Rose.

Rose, who joined Congress in 2019, reported an ownership stake in several residential buildings across the country. Rose also owned at least $500,000 worth of stock in Citizens Bank and more than $100,000 worth of Alphabet stock, and he reported 100% ownership of Rose Farm, worth between $5 million and $25 million.

Rose submitted information for one liability: a monthly balance on his credit card amounting to at least $15,001.

23. Rep. Fred Upton, a Republican from Michigan: $24,692,218

Rep. Fred Upton
Rep. Fred Upton.

Upton’s fortune mainly derives from an appliance company that his grandfather founded, Whirlpool, which the congressman reported holding at least $1 million of stock in. Upton also reported having at least $1 million in Pepsi stock. Other notable holdings of Upton’s include Apple, Raytheon, Amazon, Alphabet, Facebook, and Texas Instruments.

The representative reported one liability: a mortgage worth at least $15,001 through JPMorgan Chase.

22. Rep. Dean Phillips, a Democrat from Minnesota: $24,778,495

Rep. Dean Phillips
Rep. Dean Phillips.

Phillips has an ownership stake in several businesses, various stock holdings, mutual funds, government securities, various life insurance policies, and hedge funds. He is a cofounder of Penny’s Coffee, a Minnesota-based coffee shop chain, a former chairman for Talenti Gelato, and the former CEO of Phillips Distilling Company.

Phillips held more than $250,000 worth of Apple stock, at least $50,000 worth of Facebook stock, and over $1 million in the SPDR S&P 500 Trust ETF.

Phillips, who joined Congress in 2019, reported at least $2 million in liabilities in the form of mortgages.

In July, Phillips placed his assets in a qualified blind trust approved by the House Committee on Ethics, meaning he’ll retain little control over his assets while he’s a member of Congress.

21. Rep. Kevin Hern, a Republican from Oklahoma: $26,761,380

Rep. Kevin Hern, a Republican of Oklahoma, speaks during a Republican Study Committee press conference on Wednesday, May 19, 2021.
Rep. Kevin Hern.

Hern’s wealth is split between trusts and IRAs belonging to him and his immediate family. The trusts contain a combination of mutual funds, stocks, and electronic funds. Notable stocks held by Hern and his family included more than $250,000 worth of Amazon, at least $100,000 worth of Alphabet, and more than $530,000 worth of Microsoft.

Hern disclosed two liabilities: at least $500,000 used to purchase a McDonald’s restaurant, and at least $1 million that his spouse used to buy a separate company.

In 2021, Hern violated the STOCK Act by failing to properly disclose stock trades worth at least $1.06 million and as much as $2.7 million. Hern joined the House of Representatives in 2018.

20. Rep. Kathy Manning, a Democrat from Michigan: $27,202,287

Rep. Kathy Manning
Rep. Kathy Manning.

Manning’s fortune is split among government securities, mutual funds, exchange-traded funds, real property, and stocks. Notable stocks that Manning or her spouse held included Alphabet, Apple, Starbucks, Disney, Microsoft, Nike, Johnson & Johnson, and Pfizer.

Manning also reported an ownership interest in Stonefield Cellars Winery in North Carolina. 

The congresswoman reported two liabilities owned by her spouse: lines of credit amounting to more than $1.5 million.

She is a newcomer to Congress, joining the ranks in 2021.

19. Rep. Don Beyer, a Democrat from Virginia: $29,805,092

Don Beyer
Rep. Don Beyer.

All of Beyer’s assets were jointly owned, in a combination of stocks, government securities, and real property.

Beyer reported at least $8.6 million in liabilities, almost all of which were mortgages on various properties he owned.

18. Rep. David Trone, a Democrat from Maryland: $32,927,094

David Trone
Rep. David Trone.

Trone’s wealth is divvied up among mutual funds, exchange-traded funds, and ownership of several shops across the country specializing in wine, beer, and spirits: Total Wine & More.

Trone’s wife independently owned stock in Alphabet, Apple, and Pepsi, among others. He reported one liability in his financial filings: a business loan worth at least $5 million from PNC Bank.

Trone is a relatively new member of Congress — he assumed office in 2019.

17. Rep. Jay Obernolte, a Republican from California: $39,250,014

Jay Obernolte
Rep. Jay Obernolte.

The bulk of Obernolte’s fortune stems from his ownership of FarSight Studios, a video-game company in Big Bear Lake, California, that he launched in 1988. Obernolte, who joined Congress in 2019, also reported several investments worth millions in Vanguard tax-managed mutual funds.

Obernolte did not report any liabilities or debts.

16. Rep. Scott Peters, a Democrat from California: $39,738,062

Rep. Scott Peters
Rep. Scott Peters.

Peters’ wealth is mostly in government securities, though he and his spouse have also invested in several mutual funds. The congressman’s wife, Lynn Gorguze, is the president and CEO of a private equity firm, Cameron Holdings. 

Peters reported two liabilities worth at least $30,000 in total, for “revolving credit.”

15. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from California: $46,123,051

House speaker nancy pelosi
Rep. Nancy Pelosi.

Pelosi, the speaker of the House, reported personal wealth spread out among property holdings, mutual funds, and stocks owned by her husband. The only assets that Pelosi reported owning or joint-owning were her home in Napa, California, and a Wells Fargo bank account containing less than $15,000.

Pelosi’s husband had holdings in corporations such as Slack, Tesla, Disney, Visa, Salesforce, PayPal, Alphabet, Facebook, and Netflix — companies that together spend tens of millions of dollars each year lobbying the federal government.

Pelosi reported at least $20 million in liabilities that mostly involved mortgages on properties in California and Washington, DC.

14. Rep. Frank Mrvan, a Democrat from Indiana: $49,848,004

Frank Mrvan
Rep. Frank Mrvan.

Before going to Washington, DC, Mrvan worked as a pharmaceutical sales representative and a mortgage broker.

Much of Mrvan’s wealth — estimated at about $50 million at minimum — is contained in an Indiana public employees’ retirement fund. Mrvan’s next-largest asset was his wife’s 401(k), valued at $100,000 to $250,000.

Mrvan, a newcomer to Congress, reported three liabilities in his financial filings worth at least $270,000 in total: his home mortgage, an auto loan, and credit-card debt.

13. Rep. Suzan DelBene, a Democrat from Washington: $52,156,097

Rep. Suzan DelBene, a Democrat from Washington, speaks in front of the US Capitol.
Rep. Suzan DelBene.

Before joining Congress, DelBene was an executive at Microsoft. DelBene and her husband reported at least $1.1 million worth of shares in her former company.

DelBene’s wealth is spread out among mutual funds, exchange-traded funds, and real-estate funds.

In late 2021, DelBene appeared to violate the STOCK Act by improperly disclosing her husband’s massive sale of Microsoft stock days before President Joe Biden nominated him for an administration post. DelBene’s office denied that the congresswoman violated the law, citing an email from the Committee on House Ethics.

12. Rep. Peter Meijer, a Republican from Michigan: $60,514,285

Peter Meijer
Rep. Peter Meijer.

A part of the family behind the eponymous Midwestern grocery chain, Meijer reported that the bulk of his wealth was held in a “generation-skipping trust” that contained, among other assets, stock in Johnson & Johnson, Home Depot, Tesla, and Visa.

Meijer reported at least $1.95 million in liabilities in the forms of a mortgage, lines of credit, and promissory notes. He joined Congress in 2021.

11. Rep. Roger Williams, a Republican from Texas: $67,438,045

roger williams
Rep. Roger Williams.

Williams’ wealth is primarily split among mutual funds, a few select stocks, real property, and the ownership of several car dealerships in Texas worth more than $5 million. Williams also reported a stake in two aircraft-leasing companies.

The congressman reported $4 million in liabilities in the forms of lines of credit, mortgages, notes payable, and a loan. Williams recently violated the STOCK Act by failing to properly file three stock transactions by his wife. 

10. Rep. Doris Matsui, a Democrat from California: $73,872,062

Doris Matsui
Rep. Doris Matsui.

Matsui’s husband, Roger Sant, is the founder of the AES Corporation, a Fortune 500 holding company specializing in electricity generation and distribution.

Matsui’s listed holdings were spread out among exchange-traded funds, money-market funds, limited liability companies, and trusts. She reported at least $165,000 in liabilities in the form of credit-card debt through various banks.

9. Rep. Trey Hollingsworth, a Republican from Indiana: $74,629,062

Trey Hollingsworth
Rep. Trey Hollingsworth.

Hollingsworth’s wealth primarily comes from his involvement with Hollingsworth Capital Partners, a Tennessee group that builds and markets industrial facilities in 17 states, according to his financial disclosure.


8. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut: $85,231,232

Sen. Richard Blumenthal
Sen. Richard Blumenthal.

Blumenthal’s fortune is held almost entirely by his wife, Cynthia Malkin, with millions of dollars reported in various hedge funds, stocks, and real estate and property partnerships. Malkin’s father, Peter L. Malkin, is the chairman emeritus of Empire State Realty Trust — a commercial office and retail leasing agency for units across Manhattan including the Empire State Building —  and the chairman of Malkin Holdings.

Blumenthal’s only liability listed in his financial filings was a 30-year mortgage on his home that his wife took out in 2011.

7. Sen. Mitt Romney, a Republican from Utah: $85,269,083

Mitt Romney
Sen. Mitt Romney.

The bulk of Romney’s wealth derives from his success at Bain Capital, a private-equity investment firm where he rose to CEO. And much of Romney’s fortune is in Goldman Sachs mutual funds.

Romney’s wife, Ann, also boasts an extensive portfolio that includes millions invested in private-equity and hedge funds.

Romney reported at least $4.5 million in liabilities from his wife; each liability was listed as a “capital commitment.”

6. Sen. Mark Warner, a Democrat from Virginia: $93,534,098

Mark Warner
Sen. Mark Warner.

Before venturing into politics, the 3-term senator and former Virginia governor ran a venture-capital firm, Columbia Capital, and a telecom company, Capital Cellular Corporation. Warner’s wealth is divvied up among mutual funds, private-equity funds, and hedge funds.


5. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat from California: $96,518,036

Dianne Feinstein
Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

The majority of Feinstein’s wealth is from her husband, Richard Blum, according to her financial filings. Blum is an investor and the president and chairman of Blum Capital, a private equity company. Feinstein herself reported over $1 million in a deposit account, while a considerable portion of her wealth — at least $25 million — was held in a blind trust.

Feinstein listed three liabilities, each of which belonged to her husband, for a combined amount of at least $3 million.

Feinstein was one of 48 members of Congress who Insider and other media organizations found in 2021 to have violated the STOCK Act.

4. Rep. Vern Buchanan, a Republican from Florida: $113,384,088

UNITED STATES - JUNE 18: Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., arrives for the House Republican Conference meeting in the basement of the Capitol on Wednesday, June 18, 2014. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Rep. Vern Buchanan.

Buchanan’s wealth primarily comes from his ownership of several car dealerships, in addition to a limited liability company that was labeled as “Aircraft Holding & Leasing” and valued at $25 million to $50 million. Buchanan also founded a printing company, American Speedy Printing, in the late 1970s.

Buchanan listed several liabilities in his financial filings worth at least $14 million, including loans for a plane and a yacht connected with the LLC.

Buchanan may have the authority to write American tax policy in coming years, as the congressman is likely to become the leading GOP member of the Ways and Means Committee after Rep. Devin Nunes announced his resignation to become the CEO of a new social media company founded by former President Donald Trump.

3. Rep. Darrell Issa, a Republican from California: $115,850,012

Darrell Issa
Rep. Darrell Issa.

Much of Issa’s fortune comes from a car-alarm system called Steal Stopper and his time as the CEO of Directed Electronics. His financial filings indicated that each of Issa’s assets is jointly owned. Issa did not report owning any individual stocks — his wealth is largely held in diversified stock funds and his ownership of properties in California and Ohio.

Issa listed one liability: a margin account holding him liable for over $50 million.

The congressman served for 18 years in Congress before briefly leaving and becoming President Donald Trump’s nominee to head the US Trade and Development Agency. He rejoined Congress in 2021.

2. Rep. Michael McCaul, a Republican from Texas: $125,880,292

Rep. Michael McCaul
Rep. Michael McCaul.

McCaul is thought to be the second-richest person in Congress, though none of the assets or holdings reported in his 65-page financial disclosure were his alone, belonging to his wife or dependent children. The bulk of his fortune is from his wife, Linda, the daughter of the founder of the media giant iHeartRadio.

The McCaul family notably reported millions in limited liability companies and iShares funds, and at least $250,000 worth of Netflix stock.

McCaul did not list any liabilities or debts in his financial disclosure.

1. Sen. Rick Scott, a Republican from Florida: $200,327,223

DJT and Rick Scott
Sen. Rick Scott.

Scott, who assumed office in 2019, cemented his No. 1 spot on the list through his extensive holdings in stocks, bonds, LLCs, private-equity funds, gold trusts, and treasury notes. Scott holds relatively few individual stocks.

The senator is the cofounder of two healthcare companies: Columbia Hospital Corporation (now HCA Healthcare) and Solantic. He also worked as a venture capitalist, investing in several technology and healthcare companies.

Scott did not list any liabilities or debts in his filings.

The five least-wealthy members of Congress

August Pfluger
Rep. August Pfluger.

A few members of Congress’ minimum sum of liabilities far surpassed the minimum sum of their disclosed assets.

These five members’ negative estimated wealth stemmed from high-priced mortgages:

  • Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, a Democrat from California: -$1,008,000
  • Rep. Steven Horsford, a Democrat from Nevada: -$1,047,992
  • Sen. Cynthia Lummis, a Republican from Wyoming: -$1,401,991
  • Sen. Tammy Duckworth, a Democrat from Illinois: -$1,877,936
  • Rep. August Pfluger, a Republican from Texas: -$2,000,002

Computer graphics of dollar banknotes stream flying around United States Capitol. Colorful twilight sky with clouds in backgrounds

Members of Congress are required to disclose the value of their assets only in broad ranges, such as $15,000 to $50,000. Insider’s calculations are conservative estimates based on the minimum values disclosed by members. Each member of Congress’ wealth was calculated by subtracting the sum of their minimum reported liabilities from the sum of their minimum asset values.

Lawmakers are not required to disclose certain classes of personal assets, such as the value of their personal residence, so these assets are not included in Insider’s calculations.

Insider’s analysis does not include four members of Congress whose disclosures were uniquely complicated and lengthy, comprising hundreds of pages of handwritten or scanned documents: Reps. Ro Khanna of California, Vicente Gonzalez of Texas, Kurt Schrader of Oregon, and Harold Rogers of Kentucky.

Read the original article on Business Insider

These are the 50 top stocks that members of Congress own

Reps. Josh Gottheimer, Sara Jacobs, Van Taylor, and Susie Lee in front of Exxon Mobil, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft lgoos.
  • More than 220 members of Congress held individual stocks in 2020.
  • We analyzed hundreds of congressional financial disclosures to find the most popular investments.
  • Apple was the most popular, with Microsoft, Disney, Alphabet, and Amazon close behind.

More than 40% of members in Congress, or more than 220 representatives and senators, own individual stocks, collectively holding at least $225 million in stock assets, Insider has found.

Those in Congress are prohibited from using insider information to profit from the stock market. But it is legal for them to buy and sell individual stocks — a policy that can result in potential conflicts of interest in legislators’ financial dealings.

Tech stocks were the most popular

Those in Congress favor tech stocks, Insider’s analysis showed. Apple, the top stock and one of the hottest investments in recent years, was held by 72 members, or more than 13% of Congress.

Microsoft, the second-most-popular stock, was held by 64 members, followed by Disney and Alphabet, tied with 45 owners. Close behind was Amazon, owned by 44 members.

Together, the five companies spent $48 million on lobbying in 2020, according to OpenSecrets. PACs linked to the five companies along with the companies’ employees made an estimated $89.9 million in federal political contributions during the 2020 election cycle, which includes the calendar year 2019.


Leading investments include big lobbying forces, from pharma to oil to defense

Pharmaceutical and biotechnology giants are also popular investments for elected officials.

Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer, the makers of COVID-19 vaccines, were the most-held pharmaceutical stocks in Congress in 2020, owned by 44 and 37 members, respectively.

Congress’ stock trades in particular are worthy of scrutiny. Despite a law requiring members to quickly and publicly disclose when they buy and sell stocks and corporate bonds, Insider found that many have failed to comply, often disclosing trades late, if at all.

Lawmakers’ personal financial interests sometimes intersect with their public duties.

Reps. Robert Wittman, a Republican from Virginia, and Steve Cohen, a Democrat from Tennessee, owned Exxon Mobil stock. Both lawmakers sit on the House Committee on Natural Resources, which is responsible for overseeing various elements of the fossil-fuels industry. Overall, 36 members of Congress owned Exxon Mobil stock in 2020, making it the 12th-most-owned stock in Congress.

Insider also discovered that some members of Congress held stocks that their committees have direct influence over, such as 15 members sitting on the House and Senate Armed Services committees who are simultaneously invested in defense contractors.

Shares of Alibaba, a multinational Chinese tech firm with ties to the country’s ruling Communist Party, were owned by 20 members of Congress, including Republican Sens. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama and Roger Marshall of Kansas, two outspoken critics of China’s government. Both senators this year violated the federal Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act of 2012 by not properly disclosing some of their stock trades.


How we analyzed Congress’ financial disclosures 

Insider this autumn collected and analyzed financial disclosures filed by each member of Congress, making them searchable and sortable whereas they previously were not. Covering 2020 — a year in which the world’s richest people witnessed their fortunes grow substantially — the reports provide the most recent comprehensive overview of each member’s financial assets.

They revealed at least $2.6 billion in wealth held by federal legislators.

Senate and House members file their disclosures in different formats. Insider used natural-language-processing software — including an algorithm that analyzes text — to help determine the most commonly traded stocks in the House.

Insider’s analysis did not include four members of Congress whose disclosures were uniquely complicated, incomplete, illegible, or long, comprising hundreds of pages of handwritten or scanned documents. Those members are Democratic Reps. Ro Khanna of California, Vicente Gonzalez of Texas, and Kurt Schrader of Oregon, and Republican Rep. Harold Rogers of Kentucky. A cursory review of their filings showed that Khanna, Schrader, and Rogers held extensive stock portfolios, and that they or immediate family members frequently traded individual stocks in 2020.

Read the original article on Business Insider

‘Conflicted Congress’: Key findings from Insider’s five-month investigation into federal lawmakers’ personal finances

Pat Fallon, Dianne Feinstein, Mitch McConnell, Nancy Pelosi, Jon Ossoff, and Liz Cheney over an image of the capital
From Left: Rep. Pat Fallon, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Jon Ossoff, Rep. Liz Cheney

  • Dozens of federal lawmakers and at least 182 top staffers have violated a conflict-of-interest law.
  • Numerous members of Congress personally invest in industries they oversee.
  • Few face serious consequences, legally or otherwise.

The nation is unabashedly polarized. Republicans and Democrats enjoy little goodwill and less commonality.

But in Washington, DC, a bipartisan phenomenon is thriving. Numerous members of Congress, both liberal and conservative, are united in their demonstrated indifference toward a law designed to quash corruption and curb conflicts-of-interest.

Insider’s new investigative reporting project, “Conflicted Congress,” chronicles the myriad ways members of the US House and Senate have eviscerated their own ethical standards, avoided consequences, and blinded Americans to the many moments when lawmakers’ personal finances clash with their public duties.  

In all, Insider spent hundreds of hours over five months reviewing nearly 9,000 financial-disclosure reports for every sitting lawmaker and their top-ranking staffers. Reporters conducted hundreds of interviews, including those with some of the nation’s most powerful leaders.  

Today, Insider published the first of more than two-dozen articles and data visualizations that will reveal the:

Insider’s “Conflicted Congress” is also rating every member of Congress on their financial conflicts and commitment to financial transparency. Fourteen senators and House members have received a red “danger” rating on our three-tier stoplight scale, while 112 get a yellow “borderline” rating.

Throughout this week, “Conflicted Congress” will publish investigations into Congress’ tobacco ties, cryptocurrency plays, real estate investments, transparency avoidance, lax law enforcement, and crushing student loan debt. 

Other articles will reveal the 25 wealthiest members of Congress and where they put their money and the 50 most popular stock holdings among members of Congress.

Finally, Insider on Friday will publish an exclusive, searchable, and sortable database of all members of Congress’ personal finances, including their assets, debts, and sources of outside income. (Data geeks get ready!)  

Have a tip for Insider’s “Conflicted Congress” reporting team? Confidentially email us at

Read the original article on Business Insider

For every COVID-19 death ‘partisanship’ should be listed as a ‘contributing cause,’ expert says, but politicians on both sides of the aisle are still pointing fingers

Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden, Donald Trump, and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in the center in front of a large coronavirus shape. Syringes, vaccine vials, and masks are scattered behind them on a red background.
Experts say partisanship are a key part of why the US hasn’t been able to get COVID-19 under control.

  • More than 790,000 Americas have died from COVID-19 since it first emerged two years ago.
  • Experts told Insider that one of the biggest contributors to US COVID-19 outbreaks is partisanship.
  • Politicians on both sides of the aisle still blame each other for the pandemic response. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has ravaged the US for almost two years, but experts told Insider politics have played as much of a role as the virus itself. 

“For every single death certificate that has COVID-19 as a primary cause of death, partisanship should be listed as a contributing cause. This pandemic was politicized from day one,” Brian Castrucci, president and CEO of the de Beaumont Foundation, a philanthropic foundation working on advancing public health policy, told Insider.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a cluster of patients began experiencing pneumonia-like symptoms on December 12, 2019, in Wuhan, China, where the coronavirus is believed to have originated. On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic

In the past two years, COVID-19 has infected close to 267 million people, including 49 million in the US alone, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The virus has killed more than 5 million people worldwide, including over 790,000 in the US. 

Castrucci, an epidemiologist, said politics have played a huge role in America’s inability to get the pandemic under control, especially as several states push to limit the role of public health officials or fight against public health efforts like vaccines and mask-wearing. 

“Politics has indelibly shaped this pandemic from the moment that our former president framed it as lives versus livelihoods, putting public health officials on the side of lives and somehow against livelihoods, which is simply not true. And that has contributed not only to the pandemic but to the open assault on public health officials, the harassment, the ridicule of public health officials. More than 200 [state and local public health officials] have been forced to resign, retire, or have been terminated,” Castrucci said. 

Anti-mask protestors march to the home of Utah Epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020, in Salt Lake City.
Anti-mask protestors march to the home of Utah Epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020, in Salt Lake City.

Problems with messaging go back to the beginning of the pandemic

Castrucci told Insider one of the contributing factors was the way officials spoke about the coronavirus from the start. He said when officials gave orders with certainty on the virus, it made it easier for people to distrust messaging as more information was learned and advice changed.

“I will honestly admit that there were public health officials at the federal level who spoke with far too great of certainty in the face of a novel virus,” Castrucci said. 

That lack of certainty made it easy for misinformation and disinformation to spread. For instance, at the very start of the pandemic in late February and early March 2020, health officials, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, told Americans they did not need masks to protect themselves against the coronavirus, before switching course a few weeks later. 

Fauci said the advice was based on the shortages of masks for healthcare workers who needed that personal protective equipment most, not based on the effectiveness of masks against the virus. 

That messaging, however, contributed to the polarization around masks, Castrucci said. 

Briony Swire-Thompson, the director of the Psychology of Misinformation Lab at Northeastern University, told Insider the coronavirus pandemic “right off the bat was just primed for misinformation.” 

Swire-Thompson, who researches what drives people to believe in misinformation, told Insider falsehoods are more likely to spread when we don’t have all the facts. 

“We had nothing, especially in the early days, we really didn’t have anything to counter it with. It doesn’t take much to make up a piece of misinformation and share it online, but it took a really long time for us to even know what we were dealing with. I think right from the beginning, we were on the back foot,” she said.

“It’s a topic that people really do want answers and quick answers about,” she said. 

New York City municipal workers protest outside the Gracie Mansion Conservancy against the coming COVID-19 vaccine mandate for city workers, Thursday, Oct. 28, 2021, in New York.
New York City municipal workers protest outside the Gracie Mansion Conservancy against the coming COVID-19 vaccine mandate for city workers, Thursday, Oct. 28, 2021, in New York.

Politicians play a role in addressing and correcting misinformation

Swire-Thompson told Insider that politicians can play an important role in addressing misinformation because correcting it sometimes boils down to trust rather than expertise. 

“A politician with very little medical expertise or training in COVID or training in epidemiology can have a much bigger impact on people’s beliefs if they’re perceived to be trustworthy,” she said. 

That played a role in what Castrucci said was a public issue being discussed without actual health in mind. 

Castrucci told Insider the framing of the coronavirus was one of “lives versus livelihoods, which then fit into what is our basic political divide in this country, individualism versus collectivism.”

He said a recent poll conducted by de Beaumont showed that among those unvaccinated, 79% of respondents said they value personal freedom over community health.

An August USA Today/Ipsos poll also found that while 78% of Democrats said protecting the common good was more important than personal liberties, 62% of Republicans said protecting personal liberty was more important.

“So this was almost never a public health debate. This was almost never a conversation about health. This was a conversation about political ideology,” Castrucci said. 

In this Jan. 7, 2021, file photo, two nurses put a ventilator on a patient in a COVID-19 unit in Orange, California.
In this Jan. 7, 2021, file photo, two nurses put a ventilator on a patient in a COVID-19 unit in Orange, California.

Politicians, however, still point fingers at the opposite party

Politicians on both sides of the aisle have blamed each other for partisanship. GOP Sen. Ron Johnson told Insider that Democrats have “been pushing their agenda when Republicans just kind of want to let people live, but the left won’t let us.”

Johnson blamed Democrats for “draconian shutdowns” and said they refused to focus on medication to treat the symptoms of COVID-19, which he said Republicans were focused on from the beginning.

While he blamed Democrats for partisanship, Johnson opposed shutdowns to curb the spread of COVID-19. He was one of several GOP lawmakers who threatened to block the passage of the government funding bill if Democrats didn’t withdraw funding for President Joe Biden’s mandate that large companies get their employees vaccinated by January.

Stopping the bill would have shut down federal agencies. The senator from Wisconsin has also accused Fauci of overhyping the pandemic. 

Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren blamed Republicans for not signing on to the pandemic relief package last spring.

“We know how bad the partisanship has gotten. And [during] a national emergency [we] probably should be working together. We can’t confirm government officials who need to be in place, we can’t confirm ambassadors who need to be foreign countries representing our interests, including working with local officials on public health issues,” Warren told Insider. “The impact of excessive partisanship on the part of the Republicans is hurting us in every dimension.”

GOP Rep. Dan Crenshaw told Insider partisanship around the pandemic stems from the fact that Republicans and Democrats fundamentally view solving issues differently.

However, he blamed Democrats.

“Call me biased but I certainly blame the left. I mean, the side that wants to control more of your life is generally not the good guy. I do think their hatred of Trump and desire to make this a Trump pandemic played into a lot of the problematic policies that occurred and a lot of the partisanship that occurred,” Crenshaw said. 

Anthony Fauci (R), Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and Chief Medical Advisor to the President, speaks alongside US President Joe Biden as he delivers remarks on the Omicron COVID-19 variant following a meeting of the COVID-19 response team at the White House on November 29, 2021 in Washington, DC.
Anthony Fauci (R), Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and Chief Medical Advisor to the President, speaks alongside US President Joe Biden as he delivers remarks on the Omicron COVID-19 variant following a meeting of the COVID-19 response team at the White House on November 29, 2021 in Washington, DC.

‘Not only are we failing at this pandemic, we have already laid the path towards failure for the next.’

Castrucci told Insider that misinformation and disinformation online is helping solidify people’s viewpoints and further contributing to the polarization around the pandemic.

“It’s coming from internet newsletters, where people are suggesting that there have been many, many more deaths attributable to the vaccine and that disinformation,” Castrucci said. “I think the most important point is this is not been because people are anti-science. That’s an easy explanation. The more complex challenge is that they found scientists who agree with them.”

He added that a lack of attention to public health infrastructure and a belittling of the necessity for robust public health institutions and guidance has also expanded this issue. 

“There are 26 states that are actively pursuing or passed legislation, limiting public health authority. So not only are we failing at this pandemic, we have already laid the path towards failure for the next,” he said. “Those are political decisions and that’s what we have to reckon with.”

Castrucci said governors like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis who have prohibited mask mandates and sued the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention over cruise restrictions need to understand that public health is not a partisan issue and these efforts erode trust in health officials. 

“Public health is not one side of the aisle or the other. It’s the ground on which those very aisles are built …. Health is the foundation of our society. There’s nothing you can do if you are not healthy,” Castrucci said. 

Castrucci added that politicizing this issue has meant instead of fighting the virus, “we were debating each other.”

“As people were dying in this country, we debated wearing face masks,” he said. 

He said it was unfortunate that despite the toll of the pandemic, the country is still unable to depolarize this issue. 

“It is disheartening that the loss of 600,000 plus Americans didn’t get us there,” he said. “I mean, that’s, that’s three football stadiums full of people. That’s 600,000 tables with empty seats and that that loss of American life didn’t unify our country trivializes this loss. That’s what’s really disturbing.”

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Inflation was the highest it’s been in nearly 40 years in November

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  • The Consumer Price Index soared 6.8% year-over-year in November, exceeding the 6.7% forecast.
  • The reading shows the fastest pace of price growth since 1982, when Ronald Reagan was president.
  • Inflation has accelerated through the fall as the supply crisis and strong spending fueled price hikes.

Build Back Better just got a body blow. Joe Biden is facing the highest inflation since Ronald Reagan was president.

The Consumer Price Index — a commonly used measure of US inflation — rose 6.8% year-over-year in November, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said Friday. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg forecasted a one-year gain of 6.7%. The print shows inflation accelerating again from the October pace of 6.2% and reaching its highest level since 1982, when Reagan was in the middle of his first term as president.

On a month-over-month basis, the index climbed 0.8%. That exceeded the median forecast for a 0.7% jump and showed inflation cooling from the 0.9% surge seen in October. Though the year-over-year measure signals worryingly high inflation, the slowing pace suggests inflation might have peaked this fall.


Core CPI, which strips out volatile food and energy prices, ticked 0.5% higher through the month, matching the average forecast. Core measures are usually regarded as more telling of broad inflation trends, as they aren't influenced by sudden moves in gasoline or grocery prices.

The Friday release shows just how hard the supply-chain crisis hammered businesses and shoppers across the US. Port bottlenecks and goods shortages eased somewhat in November but remained a major strain on the recovery. The start of holiday-season spending and Black Friday sales led to strong demand crashing up against limited supply.

November also saw US gas prices peak before tapering off into December. The nationwide average reached $3.43 per gallon earlier in the month but has since crept slightly down to $3.35. A prolonged downtrend could pull broad inflation to lower levels, though it's unclear whether the Omicron variant will curb travel demand.

The print also ramps up pressure on Democrats as they push for another massive spending package. The party aims to pass the Build Back Better plan by Christmas, but red-hot inflation has led Republicans to link new spending to soaring prices

Elevated inflation has also led Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia to express some trepidation toward passing the measure in 2021. The centrist Democrat said Tuesday that inflation is "not transitory" and the Senate should focus more on inflation risk than jamming through more spending.

"The unknown we're facing today is much greater than the need that people believe in this aspirational bill that we're looking at. And we've got to make sure we get this right," Manchin said during The Wall Street Journal's CEO Council Summit. "We just can't continue to flood the market as we've done."

With inflation endangering Biden's spending agenda and hurting Democrats' 2022 election hopes, the Friday data suggests the party has a tougher road ahead before price growth slows.

Where inflation heated up in November

The CPI report offers economists the first look at where prices soared the most last month. Energy costs fueled the bulk of the month's inflation, with the category seeing prices climb 3.5% in November. Gasoline prices saw the biggest jump of 6.1%, matching the pace seen in October. Fuel oil inflation slowed to 3.5% from 12.3%, according to the report.

Food prices rose 0.7% month-over-month, decelerating from October's pace of 0.9%.

Used car prices jumped 2.5% through November, matching the pace seen the month prior. The category fueled one-third of higher inflation in the spring before cooling off through the summer. The category is still up 31.4% year-over-year, more than nearly any other product.

Shelter inflation held at 0.5% month-over-month. The category has been closely watched in recent months. Such inflation tends to be stickier than other kinds, meaning it's less likely to reverse course if it speeds up. Though the US housing market has been white-hot throughout 2021, soaring home values have done little to drive shelter inflation higher.

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