Saturday, November 19, 2011

Senate Legislation Would Prohibit Insider Trading by Members of Congress

Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) has introduced bi-partisan legislation prohibiting Members of Congress from engaging in insider trading. The Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act redefines insider trading to include knowledge gained from Congressional work and service, creates transparency rules and reporting requirements, and requires political intelligence consultants to register as lobbyists. Currently, insider trading by members of Congress and their staffs is not prohibited by the SEC or Congressional rules.

The legislation amends the definition of insider trading to include purchasing assets on the basis of knowledge of a legislative action gained from a member or employee of Congress or by virtue of being a member or employee of Congress. This would require the SEC and CFTC to make regulations to prevent such use and go after cases of insider trading by members of Congress.

Similarly, the legislation amends Senate rules to make it a violation of the rules to provide information with the understanding that it will be used to buy or sell an asset or to use knowledge gained from Congressional work to buy or sell a stock or commodity. It would also require reporting within 90 days of a member or employee making a transaction of more than $1,000 to provide oversight of possible violations or inappropriate practices.

The legislation would require political intelligence consultants, who are individuals contacting legislative and executive branch employees to acquire market intelligence regarding a proposed rule, regulation or legislation, to register as lobbyists, and would make them subject to the same reporting requirements and other restrictions imposed on lobbyists.

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