United States Representative Timothy V. Johnson today issued the following statement upon passage of the STOCK Act, which prohibits members of Congress from using insider knowledge for financial gain.
Representative Johnson was among a handful of original cosponsors of the bill when it was first introduced in 2006. The legislation failed to get out of committee at the time and only gained traction after a "60 Minutes" episode last year revealed questionable insider trading by members and leadership from both parties.
"I can only say it's about time," Rep. Johnson said.
"The thought that public servants would use insider knowledge for private gain is anathema to me and to most Americans. This is not why we run for office. Our approval ratings are in the tank because people don't trust us. We often give them little reason to."
Representative Johnson repeated that message in a statement submitted to the Congressional Record. It states:
"Today, many government officials live in Washington, secluded from their constituents, and out of touch with reality. They benefit from financial insight used to improve their own stock portfolios, enjoy luxury trips disguised as CODEL's, and upon retirement, receive generous pensions despite their own actions while in office. Politicians come to Washington not to represent their constituencies, but for their own avail.
Vainglorious acts such as these, committed by our country's leaders, are simply unacceptable.
I have introduced several pieces of legislation intended to reduce government waste, hold Members accountable for their actions, and increase transparency within our federal government. For example, the STAY PUT Act would require the completion of a study on the costs of Congressional foreign travel claimed to meet criteria of "official business," by Members, officers, and employees of Congress. Another piece of legislation I have introduced, the Citizen Legislator Act, aims to cut the time spent in Washington, DC in half, cuts Congressional salaries and budgets in half, allows Members to work jobs outside of public office, and increases the time Members spend in their districts with the people who elected them.
"Mr. Speaker, while, many of us may attempt to project the appearance that our motives are truly altruistic, the time has come for real action. I applaud my colleagues for passing the STOCK Act today and encourage them to consider additional legislation bearing similar objectives, to listen to their constituents, and to spend more time in their districts. I remain optimistic that many of us still remember why we find ourselves here today: to serve the American people."