I was alarmed when I saw a post with the alarming headline of Pres Obama Signs Bill Killing Anti-Corruption, Pro-Transparency STOCK Act Provisions. Firedoglake had a similarly alarming headline: Obama Signs Law Gutting Insider Trading Regulations For Congress.
I was prepared to join the freakout as I'm past being shocked by the Obama Administration's coddling of Wall Street banksters and Congress's willingness to eliminate habeaus corpus, FISA and etc. But I decided to contact Rep. Tim Walz (DFL-MN) first. Walz authored the House bill and championed the cause. I also contacted Sen. Al Franken's office.
According to Walz's and Franken's offices, the STOCK Act was not gutted.
According to Walz's office, the provisions that require elected officials to post their financial information online remains. Franken's office pointed out that the top 1,200 appointed officials still have to post their financial disclosures online.
Walz claims that a provision that the Senate added to the STOCK Act was removed. In other words, it was language that Walz didn't include in his bill. The removed provision required that ALL federal employees that make over $120K to post their financial information online.
The reason it was removed was national security. Both Franken and Walz pointed me to this article:
The National Academy of Public Administration issued a scathing report on the law, likening mandates that top level staffers disclose personal financial details online to boiling a frog.This provision had been delayed anyway, according to Walz. The bill that passed does not let federal employees who make over $120K off the hook -- they still have to submit their financial disclosure -- it just doesn't post this information online.
“This forthcoming increment in available data could become the fatal temperature change that goes undetected by the hapless frog,” the NAPA’s report said of disclosure and online posting requirements contained in the 2012 law known as the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act, or STOCK Act.
Under the law, staffers in both the legislative and executive branches paid annually at $119,553 or more must disclose their assets, liabilities and financial transactions valued at more than $1,000, which will then be posted to an online database. Congress in December delayed implementation of the new posting requirements until April 15, to allow time for lawmakers to digest the report before the data is released.
(Roll Call, 3/28/2013)
Also according to Walz, anyone can request a copy of a federal employee's disclosure.
Here's Sen. Franken's statement:
“I supported the STOCK Act because I believe in transparency and making sure Minnesotans are confident that Members of Congress and other officials don’t benefit from insider information in ways that would be illegal for anyone else. The change made last week preserves those two core goals while at the same time protecting our national security interests as well as the safety and privacy of hardworking Americans who have chosen to serve their country.”Here's Walz's statement:
“Government reform is a journey, not a destination. The core components of the STOCK Act—ensuring elected officials play by the same rules as everyone else—remain intact. As we move forward, I will continue to find ways to increase transparency and accountability in Washington, including bringing much needed sunlight to the political intelligence industry.“However, Open Secrets claims the following was removed:
Creation of searchable, sortable disclosure of the information contained in reports even for Congress, the president, vice president, the president’s cabinet and congressional candidates.
Required electronic filing for Congress, the president, vice president, the president’s cabinet and congressional candidates, as well as high-level executive and congressional branch employees. Even images of the staffers' filings will not be available for viewing on the web.