Rep John Campbell (R-CA) was one of two lone votes against HR 1148 also known as the STOCK Act (Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act). This insider trading bill had just previously passed the Senate by a 96-3 margin. When it reached the house, amendments added by the Senate were removed to make it more palatable to house members. As a result, the bill passed with an overwhelming 417-2 margin.
According to Heritage Foundation, the difference between the two bills is the Senate version also addressed other perceived public corruption problems. The House deleted those provisions by amendment. After analysis, Heritage favors the House version.
When asked about the vote, Christopher Bognanno, Communications Director for Rep Campbell gave this explanation:
“My concern with the STOCK Act is that it will have the unintended consequence of muzzling members of Congress from speaking to constituents about pending legislation for fear that they could be giving constituents inside information. Insider trading by anyone in this country is already illegal. This bill attempts to make unlawful what is already unlawful. Unfortunately, I believe it will only serve to restrict a constituent’s access to his or her representative in Congress.”
Tea Party activist, Cathy Richardson, commented:
“Congressman Campbell is so out of touch. He recently failed to get his own County’s Republican endorsement mainly because he refuses to meet with his constituents or hold townhalls. Is he trying to tell us that he voted “no” on this bill so he wouldn’t feel further restricted to come talk to us? I don’t get it.”
The STOCK bill was originally introduced to the House in 2006 by Rep Slaughter (D-NY) and Rep Walz (D-MN). The bill languished in committee and ultimately was shelved. In Nov 2011, the CBS series 60 Minutes aired a story on potential insider trading abuses by members of Congress due to lax regulation and judicial precedent. This generated significant outrage by constituents. Members of Congress were already anxious as their approval ratings had plummeted to 11%. They hurried to resurrect the original bill in an attempt to rehabilitate their reputations. The original bill had only 9 sponsors but the second time around 140 members rushed to sign as sponsors. That number has grown to 286 sponsors to date.
But there will be no easy resolution in the Senate. Sen. Burr (R-NC) also opposed STOCK. He stated current law already covers members of Congress. He went on to explain this process was a waste of time when attention should have been focused on tax reform, energy issues and unemployment. Other members of the Senate are unhappy the amendments were removed.
The bill needs further action in the Senate before it can go to President Obama. It is currently stalled and Sen. Reid has admitted he may need to bypass a joint conference committee with the House and vote on the bill as amended by the House.
Note: Congressman Campbell’s endorsement issue will be covered in a future article.
Link to bill: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/thomas
Heritage Foundation’s Complete Analysis of STOCK Act: http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2012/03/stock-act-and-gratuities-competing-visions-common-goal-to-address-government-corruption
Contact Congressman Campbell at (949) 756-2244 or through his website at http://www.campbell.house.gov/
Barbara Geerlings, Tea Party Patriots Citizen Journalist.