Thursday, March 22, 2012

Will STOCK Act Pass The Smell Test?

The legislation that would ban lawmakers from using inside information to enrich themselves -  is headed to President Obama’s desk after the Senate voted 96-3 to pass the bill today. Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.), who’s been trying to crack down on congressional insider trading for years, praised Thursday’s vote but said she would continue to push to get the tougher Senate language signed into law.

“We have to fight another day,” Slaughter told POLITICO. “You’re never defeated until you stop. We can always start tomorrow or next week to put in what we wanted to put in. And I think it’s a necessary part, but I’m so happy to get this far.”

The version of the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act heading to Obama’s desk bans insider trading for all executive branch employees who currently are required to file financial disclosure statements.

The legislation stalled for six weeks as House leaders declined to accept the Senate version, which required employees of “political intelligence” firms to register in the same way lobbyists do. That little-known industry generates as much as $402 million in profits each year by collecting information on Capitol Hill and selling it to Wall Street firms that use it to decide when to buy and sell stocks.

Congressman Tim Walz has been pushing the bill for years and got little support from colleagues until a report by the CBS news program “60 Minutes” last fall alleged some lawmakers were using information available to them but not the public to make highly profitable trades on the stock market.

Public Citizen’s campaign finance and governmental ethics expert Craig Holman has had his fingers crossed. Holman has had lobbied hard for the passage of the STOCK Act. Nevertheless, for the Occupy Wall Street movement the passing of the STOCK Act may not pass the smell test and is considered a slap in their faces. 

Members of the movement demanding transparency and economic justice are being incarcerated and sued by local governments while Wall Street gain another big victory, according to their bloggers. "This isn’t a bill for Wall Street elites." 

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