David Frum

04.26.13

Self-Regulation Fails in Congress

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This week, President Obama signed an amendment to the STOCK Act that essentially guts the important anti-corruption legislation. The original intention of the STOCK Act was to ban legal insider trading by members of Congress. Because certain committees, such as the Senate Finance Committee, are privy to private financial data, many were using that information for their own personal investments, and shared what they knew with anyone close to them (who conceivably made investments accordingly).

There was a glimmer of hope when, last April, Congress decided it was time to regulate themselves. The original Stock Act banned Congressional employees from using and sharing private data for personal benefits. However, this didn’t last long.

The new amendment to the law, S. 76, keeps the portion of the act that prevents employees from obtaining and using private financial information, but will now allow elected officials to, once again, have access to the financial data. Essentially this means that anyone that is close to an elected official can also obtain this data once more.