Obama Quietly Signs STOCK Act Modification, Reversing Anti-Corruption Provision

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Obama Quietly Signs STOCK Act Modification, Reversing Anti-Corruption Provision 

While most Americans were tuned into the breaking news of Monday’s Boston Marathon explosions, Congress quietly and in unanimous consent passed a modified version of the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act, making it easier for congressional and top executive branch staffers to engage in insider trading.

The original STOCK Act was passed last year to deter insider trading by members of Congress and government officials. The legislation banned trading based on non-public information obtained by government officials while conducting their public duties and required Congressional staffers and senior executive branch employees to offer full disclosure of their financial holdings, which would then be published online for public viewing.

“It’s a good first step,” Obama said last year after the bill was highly publicized and passed into action. “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.”

Obviously the value and weight of the full disclosure requirement is significant. But that same anti-corruption provision is exactly what was compromised in the modification.

The new law eliminates the disclosure requirement for top 28,000 Congressional staffers (those with salaries exceeding $120,000), but leaves it in place for certain members of the government, including members of Congress and the president. The bill had previously been delayed several times before Obama on Monday approved and signed off on the changes.

Why would Congress and the president, within the course of a single year, roll back on a bill that also passed with unanimous consent the first time around?

Aside from heavy criticism from federal government employee unions, the National Academy of Public Administration in March published a study detailing the implications of the hotly contested requirement, finding that the provision could threaten the safety of government employees abroad and discourage quality talent from working on Capitol Hill.

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