It’s no surprise that polls show our faith in Congress has fallen to near all-time lows. Our elected officials spend too much time rubbing shoulders with lobbyists and catering to the whims of special interests, all while our country is in serious economic trouble.
Outlaw insider trading by members of Congress.
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But they’re not just wining and dining with fat cat corporate leaders and their hired guns. A 60 Minutes piece that aired this month (1) showed that members of Congress can use the non-public information that they have access to as part of their jobs to make investments and stock market moves. It’s called political insider trading – and it ought to be a crime. Our representatives shouldn’t be able to amass personal fortunes by trading on non-public knowledge that could affect the future price of stocks.
The STOCK (Stop Trading On Congressional Knowledge) Act, which has been introduced in both the House and Senate and has bipartisan support, would outlaw insider trading by members of Congress.
Tell your Representatives and Senators that you want to see this bill come up for a vote before they adjourn in December!
So why don’t insider trading regulations apply to Congress today? Because 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. Since Congressional officials do not owe a duty of confidentiality to these companies, they can’t be held liable for insider trading. But they do owe a duty to us, their constituents.
It’s not hard to imagine a situation where a member of Congress could know whether a piece of legislation, or even an amendment, will pass or fail — and how that action could impact a particular company or even an entire industry. The temptation to use that information for personal gain could be tremendous.
That’s why the STOCK Act (H.R.1148 / S.1871) is so crucial. It would make clear that Members of Congress — and their staffers — could not use non-public information gained on the job to make investments or trades for their own personal benefit.
The bill is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee this Thursday.(2) That’s a good first step, but we can’t let it be the last step.
Tell Congress that the STOCK Act must come up for a vote before they adjourn for 2011.
and the rest of the team at Common Cause
(1) Watch the 60 Minutes report.
(2) The hearing on Thursday, December 1 at 2:30pm will be live streamed. Mark your calendar with this link to watch.