No doubt you remember earlier this year when President Obama signed the Stock Act to end the exemption of House and Senate members from insider trading laws. Many of us were astonished and angered to learn the exemption existed in the first place.
At the signing, President Obama remarked:
I want to recognize Congresswoman Louise Slaughter [D NY 28], and wish her a speedy recovery. She broke her leg yesterday, so she can’t be here in person. I think she’ll be okay. But she first introduced the STOCK Act in 2006, and I know how proud she is to see this bill that she championed finally become law.President Obama also reminded us of this bit of history:
Lately, I’ve been talking a lot about the choices facing this country. We can settle for a country that -- and an economy where a shrinking number of people do exceedingly well, while a growing number struggle to get by, or where we can build an economy where everybody gets a fair shot, everybody is doing their fair share, and everybody plays by the same set of rules.With Louise Slaughter and the entire American public on his side, what could go wrong? For the answer, check below the squiggle.
That last part -- the idea that everybody plays by the same rules -- is one of our most cherished American values. It goes hand in hand with our fundamental belief that hard work should pay off and responsibility should be rewarded. It’s the notion that the powerful shouldn’t get to create one set of rules for themselves and another set of rules for everybody else.
And if we expect that to apply to our biggest corporations and to our most successful citizens, it certainly should apply to our elected officials -- especially at a time when there is a deficit of trust between this city and the rest of the country.
And that’s why, in my State of the Union, I asked members of the House and the Senate to send me a bill that bans insider trading by members of Congress, and I said that I would sign it right away.
What went wrong? It looks like Rep. (short for reprehensible) Eric Cantor thought the Stock Act rules shouldn't apply to his family.
Tonight, Deirdre Walsh and Dana Bash are reporting for CNN that Cantor's office changed the legislation after it was voted on by the Senate and before it was voted on by the House.
The STOCK Act requires that any trades of $1,000 or more that were made on or after July 3 have to be reported to the House and Senate within 45 days. But the House and Senate have two completely different interpretations of that rule.How the hell did this happen?
In the Senate, the Ethics Committee released one page of guidelines last month ruling that members and their spouses and dependent children all have to file reports after they make stock or securities trades. But the House ethics committee disagreed.
Its 14-page memo notifies House members and aides covered by the law that their spouses and children aren't covered. The Office of Government Ethics, which oversees all federal executive branch employees, sided with the House, informing its employees that their spouses and children don't need to file these periodic reports.
Robert Walker, a Washington ethics attorney and former chief counsel for both the House and Senate ethics committees, explained that Senate bill did include a provision that covered spouses and children, but when Cantor's office wrote the House version, this language was shifted to a different section of the bill. The change meant that spouses and dependent children weren't subject to the new reporting requirements.See if you believe this part:
"The House recrafted some of the provisions of it and moved some of the provisions around. In that process, some of the Senate bill that applied to filing of these new reports that was moved from one section of the bill to the other," Walker said.
Initially when contacted by CNN, Cantor's office insisted it did nothing to change the intent of the STOCK Act. But when pressed with the new information uncovered by CNN, the majority leader's office conceded it made changes to the House bill that effectively took out the requirement for spouses and children to file these reports.Will they get this fixed before they go on vacation? What do you think?
Cantor's spokesman maintains the change was inadvertent, but told CNN because of our reporting, they're now promising to remedy the problem.
"It was not the intention of the House to differ with the Senate-passed bill with respect to application to spouses and dependent children. We did not believe at the time that we had differed from what the Senate had done," spokesman Doug Heye told CNN.
Heye said after learning from CNN about the difference, they are now looking at ways to fix it.