Int Availability:  March 14-16, 2022
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Shahid Buttar, Nancy Pelosi’s 2022 Election Challenger Who Raised Concerns Over Insider Trading, Available For Commentary Ahead of House Committee Hearing

Buttar explains seven key issues still missing from the debate and pending reform proposals 

SAN FRANCISCO— Ahead of the long overdue congressional hearing exploring insider trading by federal policymakers, Shahid Buttar, Nancy Pelosi’s challenger in the CA-11 election, releases the following statement.

Buttar, whose campaign had a key hand in driving the reform process, is available for further interviews.

“This week’s hearing is long overdue, and is also far from enough. We can’t let Congress slide by with the bare minimum while ultimately doing nothing meaningful to address the issue of corporate corruption invited by conflicts of interest and divided loyalties. If the debate continues as it has, any resulting legislation will include massive loopholes and fail to address the problem,” said Buttar.

“Insider trading is the cornerstone of the corporate corruption infecting every single issue that Congress considers. Just last week, members of Congress were caught making private trades to profit from energy prices in the days before escalation in Ukraine drove up the price of oil. Private portfolio positions that profit from international conflict are a perfect example of a disturbing pattern poised to continue even under the reform proposals that have been announced,”  he adds.

Buttar notes that the discussion and the reform proposals that have been introduced unfortunately remain tragically limited. Among the several issues that should be at the center of the debate, only a few have been acknowledged, let alone resolved in any way that would favor the public, rather than oligarchs masquerading as policymakers.

Buttar suggests seven questions that must be considered to ensure that reform legislation proves effective.

  1. Loopholes: Will the proposed ban on congressional insider trading include members of their families, as do existing laws constraining corporate executives? Pending reform proposals differ on this point, while entirely ignoring each of those below.

  2. Underinclusion: What other requirements beyond a proposed ban on insider trading will prevent similar conflicts of interest introduced through other means (e.g. relationships with lobbyists, corporate executives, or billionaires)?

  3. Correcting policy impacts: Insider trading was never ethical, and has invited conflicts of interest that have infected federal policymaking for several generations. Which areas of federal policymaking have been substantively skewed as a result of the divided loyalties of Members of Congress? On what schedule will Congress revisit previous policies addressing issues such as healthcare, climate justice, and social needs, on which their decisions were unethically influenced by conflicts of interest?

  4. What other dimensions of corruption continue to lurk unobserved? For example, Nancy Pelosi’s substantial real estate portfolio introduces conflicts of interest beyond her stock positions that skew her decisions on policies related to housing and financial regulation. Beyond insider trading, how else do the financial interests of policymakers undermine their independence and capacity to faithfully represent their constituents?

  5. Who else? Laws intended to stop money laundering have long blocked transparency into private equity instruments and hedge funds, which largely as a result have become among the preferred methods of money laundering for oligarchs from America to Russia.How many members of Congress, and which ones among them, in particular, have embraced corruption by profiting at public expense, and for how long? These are crucial questions for congressional ethics committees to investigate and document, but the committees have buried their heads rather than do the important work. Their failure further suggests the inability of Congress to police itself.

  6. Consequences: Will the vulture-capitalists-masquerading-as-policymakers be required to return their fraudulent capital gains enabled by insider trading in the past?

  7. The Emoluments Clause (for which Pelosi twice gave Trump a free pass) prohibits self-enrichment by public officials at the public’s expense. Have policymakers who have traded stocks, equities, commodities, and related derivatives have violated the Emoluments Clause? On how many occasions? Who is poised, other than voters, to hold corrupt politicians accountable? And what role should / will the press play in the process?”

As a constitutional lawyer, public interest policy advocate, and longtime national non-profit leader, Buttar is running on a platform to prioritize human rights to housing and healthcare, social needs including climate justice and racial justice, and an end to the bipartisan corporate corruption of Congress. He worked for Wall Street banks in the 90s while pursuing his undergraduate education, and organized a grassroots rally at Pelosi’s San Francisco office in 2021 focused on her unapologetic defense of congressional insider trading. His work drawing attention to this longstanding locus of corruption was recently covered by publications including Business Insider.

Buttar led the Bill of Rights Defense Committee from 2009-2015, the grassroots advocacy efforts of the Electronic Frontier Foundation from 2015-2019, and the related advocacy efforts of Muslim Advocates from 2008-2009. He was arrested in the U.S. Senate in 2015 when posing a question about impunity for unconstitutional mass surveillance to then Director of National Intelligence James Clapper contrasting his continuing impunity for severe crimes against the public with the lethal “justice” that killed Eric Garner (and too many others) with neither a charge nor trial.

Buttar previously served on the Boards of Directors of non-profit organizations including the Washington Peace Center and Center for Media Justice, and continues to serve on the Boards of Defending Rights and Dissent, as well as the Fund for Constitutional Government.

Past commentary from Buttar can be found on his YouTube Channel or Twitter @shahidforchange. Media interested in interviews should email [email protected].

NOTE TO EDITORS: Buttar is the leading 2022 election challenger against Pelosi. He won the top-two primary alongside Pelosi for California’s 11th Congressional District in 2020, became the first Democrat to ever face Pelosi in a general election over the course of her 35-year career, and won over 81,000 votes, more than any other challenger since she took office in 1987.

An immigrant of Pakistani descent racked with student loan debt who has overcome housing insecurity in his teens, challenges funding his undergraduate education in his twenties, and a racist character assassination and media whiteout by San Francisco’s political establishment as candidate for Congress, Buttar represents the working people of San Francisco and the future, rather than the corporate lobbies that support Pelosi. He is a longtime grassroots organizer, policy advocate, and direct action activist in the Black Lives Matter, Occupy, anti-war, immigrants’ rights, and digital rights movements, as well as a former national non-profit leader. For interviews, contact [email protected].