Jan. 31, 2012
Public Citizen Urges Senate to Prohibit ‘Congressional Insider Trading’
Legislation Should Be Strengthened to Cover All Who Do Business With Congress
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Senate should vote this week to prohibit congressional insider trading but should reinstate a provision addressing political intelligence that has been stripped from the bill under consideration, Public Citizen told senators today.
The “Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act” (STOCK Act), would make members of Congress and their staffs subject to the same laws against insider trading that apply to the rest of America. The STOCK Act also creates an important system of real-time transparency of stock trading activity by members and staff.
These steps alone make the legislation worthwhile. However, the measure being considered has been narrowed. It should include lobbyists and others, Public Citizen said.
“There exists a shady cottage industry of lobbyists and trade dealers who are taking advantage of the fact that the insider trading law has not been applied to Congress,” said Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen. “These political intelligence consultantsroam the halls of Congress and tap into their networks for non-public information that they then use to enrich themselves or their clients in the stock market. Unfortunately, political intelligence consultants have been exempted from the Senate version of the STOCK Act.”
The “political intelligence” provision in the original bills does not prevent lobbyists and traders from keeping abreast of legislative trends on Capitol Hill. It merely requires that they disclose their clients and trading activity, so that the law against using non-public material information for illegal insider trading can be properly enforced. This provision needs to be reinstated.
“The American people will remain outraged at the prospect of congressional insider trading until members of Congress make clear that insider trading is illegal for themselves and everyone who conducts business with Congress,” said Lisa Gilbert, deputy director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division. “Some are suggesting that so-called ‘blind trusts’ for members of Congress would suffice. But those trusts often don’t work the way they should, and they can easily be managed by political intelligence consultants, enriching their congressional clients by trading on non-public material information.”
Public Citizen is a national, nonprofit consumer advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C. For more information, please visit www.citizen.org.