Breitbart editor Peter Schweizer and the late Andrew Breitbart spent roughly six months coordinating an effort to ban members of Congress from using nonpublic information to profit themselves. On Thursday, their combined efforts came to fruition when the STOCK (Stop Trading On Congressional Knowledge) Act cleared the Senate on a 96-3 vote. President Barack Obama has already indicated that he will sign the bill into law.
The STOCK Act will make it illegal for members of Congress and their staffs to use material, nonpublic information to inform their private investments and will impose more rigorous public disclosure requirements on all trades by lawmakers.
Leading the effort in the Senate were Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY):
“I believe those who make the laws should live under the same laws as everyone else,” Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), who authored an early version of the bill last fall, said in a statement. “The passage of this legislation is an important step toward restoring trust in our government.”
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), who was also involved in shaping the STOCK Act, echoed Brown, calling it “a strong bill with teeth” and a “good step forward” to begin reestablishing trust with the American people.
As some analysts have noted, the Senate’s decision to pass the House’s weakened version of the bill–which lacked a requirement to make political intelligence firms register as lobbyists–is a setback for those seeking increased transparency in government.
Peter Schweizer and Andrew Breitbart favored passage of a bill by freshman Congressman Sean Duffy (R-WI) called the RESTRICT (Restoring Ethical Standards, Transparency, and Responsibility in Congressional Trading Act) Act. Rep. Duffy’s bill would have required lawmakers to place their assets into a blind trust or submit to a stringent 72-hour disclosure requirement.
For years, the STOCK Act gathered dust and garnered few cosponsors. It wasn’t until the release of Peter Schweizer’s blockbuster book expose, “Throw Them All Out“–and the 60 Minutes report it sparked–that members of Congress and President Obama began supporting the bill.
“The STOCK Act is the first small step on the path to reform,” said Schweizer in an interview with Big Government. “This is not the end but the beginning. We need to keep pushing the message of reform to root out insider dealing in government.”