CNN managed to do some news reporting outside of reading viewer Twitter feeds today, and they came up with a loophole in the STOCK Act that would render it fairly meaningless. If you remember, the STOCK Act was the bill that rocketed to passage after allegations of insider trading among members of Congress, using at times non-public information to profit off of companies over which they held oversight responsibilities. The bill, which languished for years, was quickly taken up and passed with overwhelming majorities. But it turns out that there’s a potentially gaping hole in the legislation:
The STOCK Act requires that any trades of $1,000 or more 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.
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.
Both of the lead sponsors of the Senate bill didn’t realize the discrepancy until CNN brought it to their attention.
So in the House, currently led by Republicans, you could just advise your husband or wife of the non-public information gleaned from your position as a Congresscritter, have them trade on it with family resources, and nobody would be the wiser. The Senate didn’t add a loophole this craven in the interpretation of the law. So now you have two versions of one bill that was signed into law, which could get chaotic when applied in practice.
Gotta love Congress.