Senate Accepts Weaker House STOCK Act, Drops Other Reforms: Statement of Meredith McGehee, Policy Director

Majority Leader Reid's decision to have the Senate pass the House version of the STOCK Act is disappointing and snatches away a critical opportunity to strengthen ethics laws for public officials and bring some oversight to those who mine the halls of Congress for “political intelligence” investors.

Of course, the insider trading provisions in the STOCK Act are important reforms aimed at ensuring that Members and staff are not permitted to use inside information gained from the position of public trust to enrich themselves.  But the Senate-passed version of the STOCK Act was so much stronger than the watered down version pushed by the House leadership.

Dropped from the Senate bill were the provisions to ensure better transparency for the growing "political intelligence" industry that is making millions from arranging face-time with Members and key staff.  And even more egregiously, also stripped from the House-passed version of the STOCK Act were the anti-corruptions provisions that were aimed at Members of Congress.  Without these changes, public officials intent on enhancing their lifestyle by accepting gifts, money and services from interested parties will continue to have no fear of criminal prosecution.

Insider trading by Members of Congress is clearly insidious, but refusing to ensure that our elected officials are subject to criminal penalties for defrauding the public and enriching themselves demonstrates why Congress is held in record low esteem by the public it is supposed to serve.  Sadly once again, Congress has done little more than the bare minimum to address the public anger unleashed by a scathing “60 Minutes” piece on congressional insider trading.