OCE Moves on First True Enforcement of the STOCK Act, Months After Complaint Filed by CLC
On March 8, 2021, Campaign Legal Center filed a complaint against Rep. Malinowski for apparent violation of the STOCK Act. Newly released documents show the Office of Congressional Ethics also sees, "substantial reason to believe" there was a violation.
Washington, D.C. - Just over seven months after the Campaign Legal Center (CLC) filed a complaint against Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-NJ) for allegedly violating the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act, the independent Office of Congressional Ethics has also found, "substantial reason to believe" that he violated a law designed to promote transparency.
The law at hand, the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act, was signed into law in 2012 with the goals of preventing insider trading and increasing transparency in regard to stock trading activity by members of Congress.
This law is tied to legitimate concerns over conflicts of interest that arise when members of Congress take official actions related to their financial interests.
In the ten years since the law was enacted, enforcement has been lax and penalties have been tantamount to a slap on the wrist – leading to a widespread trend of violations that crosses ideological and geographic lines. The complaint against Malinowski was just the first of 13 such complaints filed so far in 2021 against sitting members of Congress (including five Democrats and eight Republicans) to be acted upon.
“Proper STOCK ACT enforcement is a critical step for holding members of Congress accountable to the public," said Delaney Marsco, senior legal counsel for ethics at Campaign Legal Center. “Elected officials craft laws that directly impact the lives of Americans, so voters have a right to know whether their representatives are acting in the public’s interest or for their own financial gain.”
If elected officials are not held accountable for failing to promptly and properly disclose stock trades, and the penalties for such violations remain inadequate, this trend of members failing to comply may continue and worsen – enforcement needs to become the norm.
It is important that the OCE has taken the rare step of referring this matter to the House Committee on Ethics, which now has the power to recommend to the full House an appropriate repercussion for the Rep. Malinowski. But this step being taken does not mean that this matter is over – the committee must take action to ensure that the STOCK Act is being truly and strongly enforced.
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