Legislation co-sponsored by U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow to prohibit Members of Congress from engaging in insider trading today was signed into law by President Barack Obama. The Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act redefines insider trading to clearly include knowledge gained from Congressional work and also creates transparency rules and reporting requirements.
"Members of Congress should be required to play by the same rules as everyone else," said Senator Stabenow. "It's an honor to serve and any Member of Congress abusing his or her position for personal financial gain must be held accountable."
The STOCK Act:
Clearly Prohibits Insider Trading in Congress
Under the STOCK Act, Members of Congress will be explicitly barred from buying or selling securities on the basis of knowledge gained through their Congressional service - or from using that knowledge to tip off anyone else. It is not true that Congress has exempted itself from insider trading laws. However, legal experts have questioned whether an insider trading case could be brought successfully against a Member because the law does not clearly apply to knowledge gained through the legislative process. The STOCK Act makes it clear that Members trading on non-public information would violate the law.
Significantly Strengthens Disclosure Requirements
Currently, Members of Congress annually disclose the purchase or sale of securities and commodities. The STOCK Act imposes a tough 30 day disclosure requirement, and also requires that the information be published online to ensure complete transparency and easy public access to the information.
Requires GAO To Investigate Role Of "Political Intelligence" Firms
The STOCK Act requires the Government Accountability Office to investigate the role of "political intelligence" firms, which try to learn inside information from lawmakers and their staffs and sell that information along to private clients.