In the wake of the public uproar, in 2012 Congress ‘conveniently’ passed a law known as STOCK Act – “Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act”. Though according to Represent.us, a movement devoted to ending corruption in the US and to stop money controlling politics, Congress is back to its old insider trading tricks (1).
Represent.us cites a number of incidents revealing Congress’s shocking penchant for Insider Trading. For example, just days before the worldwide recession first hit in 2008, a handful of Congress members conveniently pulled out their money before the stock market crash.
In a series of top secret meetings with the Treasury, the Congress stock market investors, Represent.us claims, had been forewarned about the imminent economic meltdown and as a consequence withdrew their stock market investments at lighting speed.
While everyday Americans remained in the dark, many of whom lost their savings and homes when the economy came crashing down, at least ten senators, after a meeting with the Treasury, “made trades to protect their financial interests,” states Represent.us.
The end corruption movement informs of the shenanigans of Senator Shelley Capito and her husband. On November 18, 2008, Capito cashed in between $100,000 and $250,000 of Citigroup stock at $83 per share. The following day the Citigroup shares fell to $64 per share. Senator Capito wasn’t the only member of Congress to conveniently jump ship just in time before their stocks sunk.
While insider trading, which is effectively the trading of a public company’s stock by people who have access to ‘non-public’ information about the company, is illegal, prior to the STOCK Act of 2012, it enabled members of Congress who had access to ‘non-public’ information to turn their privileged ‘public servant’ position into personal financial gain.
When President Obama signed the STOCK Act, it was celebrated as a way of outlawing members of Congress having the ability to trade on non-public information but it would ensure greater financial transparency so that insider trading was easier to detect.
However, in 2013 Obama signed a bill to reverse several sections of the law. A statement issued by the White House’s Press Secretary, announcing the STOCK Act amendment was, pathetically, just one sentence long, stating how the new law “eliminates the requirement in the STOCK Act to make financial disclosures of employees of the executive and legislative branches (2).
According to a report on NPR about how Congress “quietly overhauled its insider trader law,” the bill was passed by the Senate and then the House in “largely empty chambers” using a fast-track process known as “unanimous consent” (3). The bill was passed in about 30 seconds, without any debate, says NPR.
The changes to the Act effectively thwarted the financial disclosures of members of Congress being posted online in a searchable, sortable and downloadable database. The amendment was made following concerns, particularly among the 28,000 executive brand staff who were required to post their financial disclosure forms onto the online database.
Independent research found that the disclosure site brought risks to the identity of those making financial disclosures. It was due to these so-called ‘identity risks’ as the reason why the President signed the bill, the White House claims.
However, some believe Congress has gone too far, such as Lisa Rosenberg, a lobbyist for the Sunlight Foundation which supported the STOCK Act. Rosenberg told NPR:
It’s really shocking that they used basically the situation of questions about whether some language in the bill was overbroad to just gut the bill – to gut the transparency measures that apply to themselves.”
Though it doesn’t stop there. According to Represent.us, Congress is now actively “stonewalling the first ever investigation into the trading under the STOCK Act.”
At the center of the investigation is Brian Sutter, a former staffer for the House Ways and Means Committee. In April 2013, Sutter allegedly informed a lobbyist about an impending change that was soon to be made to Medicare. The lobbyist is then alleged to have shared that information with other companies which subsequently used the information to trade on health insurance stocks that would be affected by the Medicare change. As Represent.us writes:
“In other words, the exact kind of behaviour the STOCK Act was designed to prevent.”
Represent.us continues about how Speaker John Boehner’s “handpicked House General Counsel, Kerry Kircher, has repeatedly refused to disclose documents about the Medicare investigation. The movement also notes how Kircher refused to comply with subpoenas issued by the Securities and Exchange Commission, which claims members of Congress are “immune” to laws related to insider trading.
Represent.us has launched a campaign to make Congress’s ongoing penchant to cash in on insider trading a scandal by spreading the word about the Security and Exchange Commission’s ongoing investigation into Congressional insider trading.
From Congress being accused of being (4) ‘in bed with Israel’ to (5) ‘astronomers telling Congress aliens definitely exist’, Top Secret Writers likes to keep our readers up to date with the latest goings on in the world of US Congress.
References & Image Credits:
(2) White House
(4) TSW: The Israeli States of America Why Is Congress in Bed with Israel
(5) TSW: Astronomers Tell Congress Aliens Definitely Exist