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Insider Trading: How Congress Can Make Big Bucks at Our Expense

It has been a difficult start for the financial services sector thus far in 2009 - yet it may be even more difficult to excuse the multitude of bad decisions made by Wall Street already (refusing to release information about bailout spending, Bank of America's $10 million super bowl ads, obscenely large bonuses for AIG executives...the list goes on).  Thankfully, it looks like Congress and the federal government are finally getting more serious about oversight of Wall Street and the financial sector.

Now also would be a good time to put an end to secret spending and insider trading immunity for government officials. 

A recent piece of legislation proposes to do just that.  Introduced by Reps. Brian Baird (D-Wash.), Louise McIntosh Slaughter (D-NY) and Tim Walz (D-Minn.), the “Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act” (H.R. 682) would ensure that those with access to privileged "non-public information" gathered through oversight proceedings would not be able to use that information for personal benefit in securities and commodities trading.

Specifically, H.R. 682 would negate a little-known loophole in the law which could allow members of Congress as well as executive staffers and government officials to practice insider trading in order to enrich themselves as well as their associates.  Of course,  this type of insider trading would be wholly illegal for citizens like you and me.

The act would also be effective in combating corrupt lobbying practices, since lobbyists and stock traders ("political intelligence consultants") who haunt the halls of Congress precisely in order to glean insider tips from staff would also be banned from insider trading.

The legislation would require members of Congress and their staff to disclose stock transactions of $1,000 or more within 90 days, and require “political intelligence consultants” to register under the Lobbying Disclosure Act and disclose their financial activities.

The time to pass this legislation is now, before our tax dollars pay for any more lucrative insider investments.

Posted by Craig Holman

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Comments

The lobbying issue is a real crux of the matter as the company with the biggest wallet gets access to literally make their own laws. This kind of corruption would not be tolerated by the US in other countries.

Public Citizen

I will be out of the office until Tuesday, Dec. 1. If you need immediate assistance please contact Barbara Holzer at bholzer@citizen.org

Public Citizen

My last day at Public Citizen was Dec. 29, 2010. If you are trying to
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