Learn more about our policy experts.

Media Contacts

Angela Bradbery, Director of Communications
w. (202) 588-7741
c. (202) 503-6768
abradbery@citizen.org, Twitter

Don Owens, Deputy Director of Communications
w. (202) 588-7767

Karilyn Gower, Press Officer
w. (202) 588-7779

David Rosen, Press Officer, Regulatory Affairs
w. (202) 588-7742

Nicholas Florko, Communications Officer, Global Trade Watch
w. (202) 454-5108

Other Important Links

Press Release Database
Citizen Vox blog
Texas Vox blog
Consumer Law and Policy blog
Energy Vox blog
Eyes on Trade blog

Follow us on Twitter


March 4, 2009  

Reform Groups Urge Congress to Prohibit ‘Congressional Insider Trading’

Reps. Baird, Slaughter and Walz Sponsor ‘Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act’

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Several reform groups today urged Congress to adopt the “Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act” (H.R. 682). The measure, sponsored by Reps. Brian Bair (D-Wash.), Louise McIntosh Slaughter (D-N.Y.) and Tim Walz (D-Minn.), would prohibit members of Congress, congressional staff and other federal employees from using non-public information for insider trading in the stock markets.

The organizations supporting the legislation include Common Cause, Democracy 21, League of Women Voters, Public Citizen and U.S. PIRG. The groups expressed surprise that congressional insider trading is not already illegal. As the letter observes:

“The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) does not have the authority to hold employees of Congress or the Executive Branch liable for using non-public information gained from official proceedings for insider trading. 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. Most federal officials and employees do not owe a duty of confidentiality to the federal government and thus are not liable for insider trading.”

Currently, members of Congress, their staff and other federal employees may obtain non-public information in the course of their official duties that sheds light on inside information on the stocks and commodities markets and use that information for personal gain. There is growing concern that lobbyists and “political intelligence consultants” may also be trying to cash in on knowledge gained from federal officials and their staffs about the stock markets.

Consequently, the groups call for banning congressional insider trading and greater scrutiny of “political intelligence consultants” who cultivate staff connections in order to get information that can be used to take advantage of the markets. According to the letter:

“The legislation would prohibit members of Congress, congressional staff and other federal employees from using non-public information obtained through their official duties for personal gain in the stocks and commodities markets. It would also prohibit private individuals and firms who attempt to mine such information from public officials to use it for insider trading.”

The legislation is needed because of the federal government’s greater role in overseeing the financial services industry, which increases the risk that federal employees will use their insider knowledge of legislation, rules and even business trends to profit from the trading markets, the letter says.

To read the letter, go to http://www.citizen.org/congress/govt_reform/ethics/articles.cfm?ID=18423.


Copyright © 2016 Public Citizen. Some rights reserved. Non-commercial use of text and images in which Public Citizen holds the copyright is permitted, with attribution, under the terms and conditions of a Creative Commons License. This Web site is shared by Public Citizen Inc. and Public Citizen Foundation. Learn More about the distinction between these two components of Public Citizen.

Public Citizen, Inc. and Public Citizen Foundation


Together, two separate corporate entities called Public Citizen, Inc. and Public Citizen Foundation, Inc., form Public Citizen. Both entities are part of the same overall organization, and this Web site refers to the two organizations collectively as Public Citizen.

Although the work of the two components overlaps, some activities are done by one component and not the other. The primary distinction is with respect to lobbying activity. Public Citizen, Inc., an IRS § 501(c)(4) entity, lobbies Congress to advance Public Citizen’s mission of protecting public health and safety, advancing government transparency, and urging corporate accountability. Public Citizen Foundation, however, is an IRS § 501(c)(3) organization. Accordingly, its ability to engage in lobbying is limited by federal law, but it may receive donations that are tax-deductible by the contributor. Public Citizen Inc. does most of the lobbying activity discussed on the Public Citizen Web site. Public Citizen Foundation performs most of the litigation and education activities discussed on the Web site.

You may make a contribution to Public Citizen, Inc., Public Citizen Foundation, or both. Contributions to both organizations are used to support our public interest work. However, each Public Citizen component will use only the funds contributed directly to it to carry out the activities it conducts as part of Public Citizen’s mission. Only gifts to the Foundation are tax-deductible. Individuals who want to join Public Citizen should make a contribution to Public Citizen, Inc., which will not be tax deductible.


To become a member of Public Citizen, click here.
To become a member and make an additional tax-deductible donation to Public Citizen Foundation, click here.