Like millions of Americans all across the country, I was surprised to learn late last year that insider trading by members of Congress, their families or their staff, using non-public information gained through their Congressional work, is not already clearly and expressly illegal.
The American people deserve to know that their elected leaders play by the exact same rules that they play by and that their lawmakers' only interest is what's best for the country, not their own financial gain.
Which is why in November, I introduced The STOCK Act in the Senate which has garnered the bipartisan support of 28 of my colleagues and at least seven good-government advocacy groups. This common sense legislation would close the insider trading loophole and take the first step in beginning to restore the American people's trust in their elected leaders.
In President Obama's State of the Union speech last week, he said if we send him this bill he will sign it right away. I applaud Leader Reid for moving to act by bringing this strong bill with teeth to the Senate floor for a vote today.
Momentum is building toward passage of this important piece of legislation. Will you make your voice heard? Please add your name to the thousands of Americans who are demanding more accountability and transparency in Washington and send a message to Congress that the time to pass The STOCK Act is now.
Here's what the STOCK Act would do:
First, members of Congress, their families and their staff would be clearly and explicitly barred from buying or selling securities on the basis of knowledge gained through their congressional service. The SEC and CFTC must be empowered to investigate these cases. To provide additional teeth we will make it clear that such acts violate Congress's own rules and empower the Congressional Ethics Committees to investigate and enforce this.
Next, members would be required to disclose major transactions within 30 days, and make this information available online, providing dramatically improved oversight and accountability from the current annual reporting requirements.
Finally, we will make it illegal to pass "insider information" to a friend, lobbyist or anyone else for the purpose of trading. Our bill will also ensure that the member or staff that provides non-public, material policy information to third persons with the intent to assist that individual with a financial trade could be held liable for "tipping" that individual.
There are some critics who say we don't need to pass this common-sense legislation. I disagree. I believe we must state clearly and expressly that this behavior is illegal. Do you agree? Join me and send a message to Congress to pass the STOCK Act this week.
Americans deserve a Congress that is significantly more transparent and accountable, which is why I have led by example my entire career in this effort. Fortunately, Congress is beginning to get the message. We must now take the next step and pass a bill to begin restoring trust to this broken Congress.