Public outrage can produce results.
With the exceptions of two Republicans – Tom Coburn (Okla.) and Richard Burr (N.C.) – and one Democrat — Jeff Bingaman (N.M.) — the Senate passed the STOCK Act.
The STOCK Act calls for members of Congress to report stock and other financial transactions within 30 days and require that these filings be available online. It also requires members of Congress, their staff and about 2,000 top policymakers in the executive branch to publicly disclose the terms of home mortgages. And an amendment by Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) was adopted requiring securities trades and financial disclosure statements for about 3,000 executive branch employees to be published online.
“Insider trading at any level of the federal government is unacceptable. We will quickly review the entire bill and the amendments that were added today to ensure that public servants, whether in the legislative or executive branch, do not personally profit from insider information.”
The STOCK Act is one component of what the Washington Post describes as a “broad reform package.”
In a unanimous voice vote, the Senate approved a prohibition on bonuses to senior executives at mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, following reports that the two mortgage giants had approved nearly $13 million in bonuses to 10 executives.
In addition, members of the so-called political intelligence industry — insiders who try to learn in advance the outcome of legislation for hedge-fund and investment-house clients, who then place stock bets based on that information — would now be required to disclose their activities, just as lobbyists trying to influence the outcome must do.
As I’ve previously noted, the bill follows a “60 Minutes” report and a series of Washington Post articles about how members of Congress and their staffs often hold financial interests in companies at the same time they are negotiating legislation that could affect the bottom line of those industries. While congressional insiders generally dismissed that report as overheated, a series of stories last year in the Wall Street Journal and other publications had unearthed more damaging information.