insider trading anymore. (Jason Reed/Reuters)
Washington (CNN) -- President Barack Obama signed legislation on Wednesday aimed at restoring Americans' faith in the nation's public institutions at a time they rank at record lows in opinion polls. The act bans insider trading by members of Congress and many executive branch employees. [...]The STOCK (Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge) Act would stop members of Congress, their staff and executive branch employees from using the inside information they might gain by virtue of their positions to trade stocks or securities. It also limits them in buying stock in initial public offerings only to those IPOs that are open to the general public.
"The powerful shouldn't get to create one set of rules for themselves and another set of rules for everybody else," Obama said. "If we expect that to apply to our biggest corporations and to our most successful citizens, it certainly applies to our elected officials, especially at a time when there is a deficit of trust between this city and the rest of the country."
The Sunlight Foundation is one group that worked hard for passage of this law, and they're reasonably pleased with the strength of the law, though with some caveats. While they say it's a "step forward":
We'll be watching closely to be sure that the provisions are implemented strongly.There are more serious problems than insider trading when it comes to money and politics (Citizens United, anyone?) but the STOCK Act is a start. And it's remarkable for one thing: It's a new law that came out of the Republican House of Representatives that actually does no harm to the American public. So, for that alone, it should be recognized.
And we'll also be pushing for stronger reforms. The STOCK Act was just one vehicle for ethics and transparency reform in Congress, and a response to a particularly objectionable idea—representatives seeking to make a private profit through their public service. There are 20 more exposés like the CBS story just waiting to happen.