U.S. Congress: Reform Groups Press Congress to Curb Congressional Insider Trading
Today the Campaign Legal Center and other reform groups urged Members of Congress to co-sponsor and push for passage of the “Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act” (STOCK Act) designed to prevent congressional insider trading. In separate letters to the full House and Senate the groups encouraged Members you to join as co-sponsors and help pass the STOCK Act expeditiously. In the House the STOCK Act (H.R. 1148) was introduced by Reps. Timothy Walz (D-MN) and Louise Slaughter (D-NY). A companion bill (S. 1871) has been introduced the Senate side Sens. Scott Brown (R-MA) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) and another is expected shortly from Sen. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).
"The STOCK Act deserves strong bipartisan support. By design Congress is intended to be filled with citizen-legislators with outside interests, but that design shouldn’t be used by elected officials and their staffs as an excuse to cash in on the public trust,” said Meredith McGehee, Campaign Legal Center Policy Director. “Members of Congress using insider information to enrich their private portfolios has drawn considerable public attention and disgust, and it will be politically difficult for Members to oppose this bill -- at least publicly. With approval levels hovering around 10%, Congress should act to make clear that they as legislators are not exempt from the insider trading laws that apply to the rest of us.”
The STOCK Act, the letter stresses, provides a balanced application of the laws against insider trading to both the private and public sectors and offers the important tool of disclosure for ensuring compliance with the law.
The organizations signing the letter include the Campaign Legal Center, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), Common Cause, Democracy 21, Public Citizen, Sunlight Foundation and U.S. PIRG.
The full text of the letter to the House follows below.
November 18, 2011
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515
RE: Support the “Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act” (H.R. 1148)
Our organizations – Campaign Legal Center, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Common Cause, Democracy 21, Public Citizen, Sunlight Foundation and US PIRG – strongly support passage of the “Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act” (STOCK Act) designed to prevent congressional insider trading, and encourage you to join as a co-sponsor and help achieve its passage through Congress. H.R. 1148 is principally sponsored by Reps. Timothy Walz (D-Minn.) and Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.).
The legislation is gaining a great deal of momentum in just the last few days, following a “60 Minutes” program on the issue and a release of a new book by Peter Schweizer that documents congressional insider trading in detail. The number of co-sponsors on the House bill has increased more than five-fold this week, and a hearing has already been scheduled on the bill before the House Financial Services Committee. For the first time, companion bills are being introduced in the Senate by Sens. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and others.
Under current law, “insider trading” is defined as the buying or selling of securities or commodities based on non-public information in violation of confidentiality – either to the issuing company or the source of information. Congressional officials and employees in the course of official business, it is often believed, do not owe a duty of confidentiality to these companies and thus are not liable for insider trading.
H.R. 1148 provides a clear and balanced application of the laws against insider trading to both the private and public sectors and offers the important tool of disclosure for ensuring compliance with the law.
We encourage all members of the House to join in this bipartisan effort to apply the insider trading laws uniformly across Congress before any new scandals may arise. We urge you to join as co-sponsors.
Campaign Legal Center
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington