Legal Center Urges Senate to Pass STOCK Act Banning Congressional Insider Trading
Today, the Campaign Legal Center, and a coalition of reform groups, urged the Senate to vote in favor of the “Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act” (STOCK Act) when it is brought to the floor for a vote next week. The letter sent to every Senator also urges them to oppose any amendments to weaken the legislation.
The STOCK Act received a groundswell of congressional support after a scathing CBS News “60 Minutes” piece on congressional insider trading was aired in November. Spurred by public outrage, scores of Members signed on as cosponsors to Senate and House bills within days of the story running.
“Constituents were rightly outraged to learn that Members of Congress appeared to have used their congressional insider knowledge to enrich themselves during the stock market collapse. The public was equally angered to learn that the practice was not already illegal and as a result read the riot act to their elected representatives,” said Meredith McGehee, Campaign Legal Center Policy Director. “Americans have every right to be appalled by this conduct and Congress should act quickly to pass this legislation and begin repairing public faith in Congress which has reached a low ebb.”
A Gallup poll released a month after the story aired found that Americans view of the honesty and ethical standards of Members of Congress had sunk below those of telemarketers, car salespeople and even lobbyists to tie an all-time low for any profession. Sixty-four percent of Americans rated the honesty and ethical standards of Members of Congress as "low" or "very low," equaling the record "low"/"very low" rating for any profession since Gallup began this ranking in 1976. The record low rating matched by Congress was previously held exclusively by lobbyists in a 2008 poll. To view the Gallup poll, click here.
The organizations signing the letter include the Campaign Legal Center, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Common Cause, Democracy 21, Public Citizen, Sunlight Foundation and U.S. PIRG.
The full text of the letter to Senators follows below.
U.S. Senate January 27, 2012
Washington, D.C. 20510
Pass the “Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act”
Our organizations – Campaign Legal Center, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Common Cause, Democracy 21, Public Citizen, Sunlight Foundation, U.S. PIRG – strongly support passage of the “Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act” (STOCK Act) designed to prevent congressional insider trading.
We strongly urge you to vote for this important reform legislation when it is brought to the Senate floor next week and to oppose any amendments to weaken the legislation.
The STOCK Act being submitted to the Senate next week clarifies for the first time that Members of Congress and their staff are subject to the same laws against insider trading that apply to the rest of America.
In addition to specifying that it is against the law for Congress to trade on non-public information gleaned through the course of official business, the STOCK Act also creates an important system of real-time transparency of stock trading activity by members and staff. These transparency provisions are an integral and very important part of the legislation.
President Barack Obama has said he will sign the legislation as soon as it gets to his desk.
We urge you to move expeditiously to enact the legislation without any undermining amendments.
Vote ‘YES’ on the STOCK Act.
Campaign Legal Center
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington