Several senators overseeing anti-Apple regulations controversially hold shares

in AAPL Investors

Several members of Congress overseeing Big Tech issues are accused of owning significant quantities of Apple stock, which could present conflicts of interest.

Evening view of the United States Capitol building with the Washington Monument in the background during dusk.
Apple continues to come under scrutiny from Congress

As Big Tech firms, most especially including Apple, come under increasing scrutiny from governments worldwide, Senator John Ossoff (D-Ga) is accused of effectively being in collusion with Apple because he may own stocks in the company. The New York Post makes vague claims that unspecified "watchdogs" are concerned over conflicts of interest, but the publication appears to be the accuser.

It's hard to be certain whether the accusation comes from The New York Post itself, or whether there are any actual "watchdogs" accusing Ossoff and other members of Congress. That's because the publication's article is hyperbolic and so bordering on hysterical that it's difficult to find the facts for all the noise.

Nonetheless, the publication's position is that Senator Ossoff, who has campaigned against congressional stock trading, is among the almost one in five in the Senate "who own or likely own" Apple stock. That phrasing is not entirely as woolly as it sounds, because the publication is counting senators who, like Ossoff, have put their stocks into a blind trust.

"You can't put Apple stock in a blind trust and pretend you don't have Apple stock," Richard Painter, former White House chief ethics lawyer under President George W. Bush, told The New York Post. "This blind trust business, it doesn't work unless you actually sell the underlying assets."

Reportedly, at least 14 other members of Congress have stocks in Apple. Those include Democratic Senators John Hickenlooper, Thomas Carper, Jacky Rosen, Ron Wyden and Sheldon Whitehouse, as well as Senator Ossoff.

They also include Republican senators Kate Britt, Tommy Tuberville, John Boozman, Susan Collins, Markwayne Mullin, Tim Scott, Bill Hagerty and Shelley Moore Capito.

But speaking specifically about Senator Ossoff, Painter said that he had demonstrated "really bad judgement" by not selling his Apple stake upon taking office. It seems like general rule should apply to anybody taking office -- which is what the blind trust regulation that Ossoff is championing will at least partially address.

Ossoff is said by the publication to have owned between $1 million and $5 million in Apple stocks before setting up a blind trust in 2021. In this case, the imprecision in the details appears to be down to the publication, with other sources say Apple represented half of Ossoff's net work before taking office.

Senator Ossoff is obviously not part of the Department of Justice's antitrust case against Apple. He is, though, a majority member of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee On Privacy, Technology, and the Law.

In that capacity, he voted in favor of advancing legislation through the pair of bills, the American Innovation and Choice Online Act (AICOA) and the Open App Markets Act. Neither bill made it through to law, allegedly following lobbying by firms including Apple.

The two bills both concentrated on anti-steering regulations, which would prevent firms from giving preferential promotion to their own services. The AICOA bill would also have at least encouraged Apple to allow sideloading and third-party app stores.

Both of the bills were delayed being put forward, for lack of sufficient support, which ultimately ultimately defeated them, too. Very similar legislation has subsequently been passed into law in the European Union, though.

The New York Post says that while Ossoff publicly backed both bills, in private he raised concerns about them. Specifically, he questioned the bills' impact on user security and data privacy, just as Apple has done.

"Having to deal with a senator who regularly repeated Apple talking points -- as if it wasn't obvious they were Apple talking points -- was bad enough," a unnamed source told the publication. "But it was even worse that in all likelihood he owned millions of dollars in Apple stock as he was doing it."

A spokesperson for Senator Ossoff told The New York Post that this criticism was "laughable." The spokesperson declined to comment on whether the senator's blind trust still included Apple shares.

Read on AppleInsider


  • Reply 1 of 6
    So is that a positive or a negative?

    Wouldn't they have refrained from passing such a case if they were only looking for profit?

    Doesn't it make their case seem better now?
    edited April 1 watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 6
    Also, these politicians should be made to sell their shares, otherwise they would be biased for these companies and try to safeguard their profit and ignore the practices of large corporations.

    (I believe Gaetz and AOC had joined forces to get such a legislature passed, wonder what's the state of that.)
  • Reply 3 of 6
    Members of Congress currently aren't banned from owning stock. I'm sure Richard Painter and the New York Post would be aware of that. However, the STOCK Act was passed and signed into law in 2012. It's mainly focused on insider trading

    "The Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act of 2012 (Pub. L.Tooltip Public Law (United States) 112–105 (text)(PDF)S. 2038, 126 Stat. 291, enacted April 4, 2012) is an Act of Congress designed to combat insider trading. It was signed into law by President Barack Obama on April 4, 2012. The law prohibits the use of non-public information for private profit, including insider trading, by members of Congress and other government employees. It confirms changes to the Commodity Exchange Act, specifies reporting intervals for financial transactions."

    As for "talking points", there are corporations on either side of the antitrust allegations. So saying anything pro/con for the issues involved is going to technically involve covering ground contained in corporate talking points. 
    edited April 1 retrogustowatto_cobraBart Y
  • Reply 4 of 6
    robin huberrobin huber Posts: 3,956member
    Requiring legislators to sell all their stocks upon election is the ideal. But perhaps requiring them to recuse themselves from any legislative process that involves their holdings might be more palatable. 
    edited April 1 watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 6
    As I've been saying for years, congressional pay needs a complete rework.

    What we need to do is pay them about a million a year, adjust it for inflation every year, and they get that for life, along with a free luxury apartment in DC as long as they're in office.  While in office, healthcare will be whatever Medicaid is in their state, and they will get a food stamp card that they must use as the only means of feeding themselves and their immediate family, they can only use their salary to buy food for guests.  If they want better healthcare or more food, they can vote to improve those programs for everybody.  They must sell ALL stocks and all real estate other than one house in their district, the proceeds must be deposited in a single non interest bearing FDIC insured bank or credit union account or stored as cash US currency.  ALL other income of their immediate household (adult offspring are only included so long as they are living with the congresscritter) is taxed at 100%, with NO deductions, for the rest of their lives.  Failure to pay the 100% tax on any outside income would be a mandatory minimum life sentence in the highest security federal prison.  (Don't want to risk being sent to solitary in a supermax?  Vote to shut them down.)
    ForumPostBart Y
  • Reply 6 of 6
    I doubt there are many US elected officials who don't own significant amounts of APPL. It's one of the best performing stocks. Also this is all mostly theatre. Apple's anti-trust issues are mostly fiction. They're not a monopoly in phones, Android has nearly the same share in the US and a much higher share outside the US, there is a strong, stable competitor to them in the phone market, (one major OS, lots of hardware vendors... most of whom are making eWaste but it's not Apple's fault everyone else's stuff is cheap crap.) Same with the computer space they actually have significantly smaller market share there. Tablets is a smaller market and they own that market but that's more because nobody else makes good tablets.

    Do they control how most people put software on their phones? Yes, which is a massive security improvement for most people, and aside from games and a few others most apps don't even cost anything, they're almost all pushing software as a service stuff and the only ones who are charging through Apple are the ones who are so small they're relying on the fact that people trust Apple. Game devs act like if they could charge directly they'd make so much extra money but there's a reason most game devs also use third party billing on Steam, it's because most people don't want to give their billing info to some rando company!

    Spotify has far more users than Apple Music does. Microsoft has a much larger computer install base. Steam is the largest game store on desktops. Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony all run their own walled garden stores on their own devices that they make.

    Really the only market that Apple is absolutely dominant in is headphones. Yet they're not even focused on that.

    They're mad that you have to have an iPhone to use an Apple Watch but they're also mad that you can't pair crappier watches to your iPhone and have them do the same thing as an Apple Watch. (Since when did anyone think it was a good idea to force companies to help other companies make accessories for their products?)

    It's crazy because yes Apple owns the high end of a lot of product categories. But that's largely been because nobody wants the hodgepodge crap that other companies put in the high end. Like yeah Sony and Samsung have both made some 'nice' Android phones. But Android is fundamentally a low end product. Microsoft, Nokia, Palm all tried to make competing OS projects for phones but all of them knew they weren't going to make anything nicer than Apple so they all targeted the low end. Realistically Android is only as nice as it is because Apple made a high end product and Google reworked the whole OS to try and compete with iOS. Windows is only as good as it is today because they've had to try and compete with Apple. (And in some ways they've done a good enough job particularly when it comes to supporting video game designers and some other markets.)

    Honestly most of this nonsense is happening because of a few very loud, very dishonest companies. Spotify who actually are a lot closer to being a monopoly in music than Apple is (and if you look at who owns them last I checked it was basically the big record labels and the Chinese government.) also you know Match, the makers of Tinder and Plenty of Fish, the ones who are the reason why single people are all lonely and depressed and think no one will ever love them? And of course Epic Games... you know the company that is doing it's best to make any teenager around you addicted to one particular game. Now there are a few other companies but those are probably a big share of the ones doing most of the bribing... I mean 'lobbying'.

    If the US government really wanted to do things to HELP consumers in 2024, they'd be going after grocery chains and food companies. They'd be going after social media companies like Facebook/Instagram, Twitter and 'Truth' social. (Heck if you want to go after Apple about something, go after them about the fact that they allow these incredibly messed up social media companies on their platforms despite the fact that they're pure psychological poison! Also I'm fully aware that the US government would never do that, because the US government has long held that companies ought to be able to poison people in ways they don't understand as much as they want, because corporations are people and if Apple actually removed a social media app they'd be flogged publicly.)

    But yeah, this is all theatre. This is mostly just the DNC trying to shake Apple down for donations.
    Bart Ybadmonk
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