Apr 18 2013
High-ranking federal employees will not be required to disclose financial information online, after President Obama signed an amendment to a bill that was meant to put an end to insider trading among members of Congress and government staffers.
The provisions to the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act were quietly approved by both chambers of Congress at the end of last week before being passed onto the president’s desk. The bill had previously been delayed several times before the White House announced on Monday that Obama had approved the changes.
The original STOCK Act was signed by the Obama administration last year in a highly publicized ceremony, during which he said the new law would restore the American public’s faith in the Washington elite. Congressional lawmakers have long been accused of profiting from stock information derived as a result of their position. A civilian moving money based on information gained in a similar fashion would be breaking the law.
“It’s a good first step,” Obama said after the passage last year. “And in the months ahead, Congress should do even more to help fight the destructive influence of money in politics and rebuild the trust between Washington and the American people.”
Last week, both chambers unanimously voted in favor of the amendments that will shield them from having to make such disclosures. In addition to the obvious implications of politicians giving themselves the option to omit financial information, the decision is notable in that it came among Congress’ least-productive session on record.
In a delay earlier this year, Congress approved a study by the National Academy of Public Administration, which determined an online database would threaten the safety of public officials and make running for office less appealing for people working in the private sector.