U.S. Rep. Timothy V. Johnson today renewed his commitment to help put an end to insider trading by members of Congress.
Rep. Johnson has signed on as a cosponsor of the H.R. 1148, the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act, or Stock Act. Rep. Johnson was also one of the 14 original cosponsors of the legislation that was first introduced in 2006 by former U.S. Rep. Brian Baird.
"I regret we weren't able to get any further with this legislation five years ago," Rep. Johnson said. "Members of Congress should enjoy no greater privileges than anybody else in this country. Whether there is wrongdoing occurring or not, this legislation must be in place to help eliminate any doubt."
The legislation gained prominent attention last week when former Rep. Baird appeared on CBS' "60 Minutes" to help detail possible abuses. His appearance was coupled with the release of a recent book by Peter Schweitzer examining how members of Congress use their position to enhance their incomes.
If enacted, the bill would prohibit members of Congress and their staff from using information not available to the public to guide them in making or selling investments. This sort of insider trading is illegal for most Americans, but the prohibition has never been extended to Capitol Hill.
It would further amend the Code of Official Conduct of the Rules of the House of Representatives to prohibit certain House personnel from disclosing material nonpublic information relating to any pending or prospective legislative action relating to either securities of a publicly traded company or a commodity if such personnel has reason to believe that the information will be used to buy or sell the securities or commodity based on such information.
"This is just basic common sense," Rep. Johnson said. "We aren't in Congress to profit. We aren't there for perks. If there is even any appearance of an impropriety, we are obligated to eliminate it."