Congressman Wants to Bar House Members From Corporate Boards

August 14, 2018

Carlo Versano

As his Republican colleague Rep. Chris Collins prepares to defend himself against charges of insider trading, Congressman Tom Reed has said he will introduce bipartisan legislation in September banning House members from serving on corporate boards.

It's a measure designed to eliminate "potential conflict and the appearance of impropriety," Reed said Tuesday in an interview with Cheddar.

Members of the House have long enjoyed the benefit of being able to serve on boards of public companies, a practice that has come under scrutiny after Collins's indictment last week.

Reed and Rep. Kathleen Rice, a New York Democrat, will propose rules similar to those in the Senate that prohibit Senators from serving on corporate boards ー even if they're not being paid by the company.

As it stands, members of Congress must disclose their board seats, but Reed wants to go further: "These types of conflicts should be avoided at all costs," he said.

Reed said there will be potential "carve-outs" for philanthropic work in his legislation, allowing members to remain on the boards of charities they support.

Unlike their Senate counterparts, members of the House have been allowed to sit on corporate boards even after they were elected to Congress. But, Reed said the House rules are too broad and don't prevent conflicts of interest.

Last week, Collins was accused of tipping off family members about a failed drug trial by an Australian biotech. Collins and his son own a stakes in the firm and the Congressman sits on the company's board.

Collins has denied any wrongdoing and since dropped out of his re-election race.

That was the "right call," Reed said.

"The district that Chris represents is a solid Republican district," Reed said. "There's a long list of candidates stepping forward on the Republican side."

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