As the Tea Party looks to codify and push its 2012 legislative and electoral agendas, a recent editorial by the Washington Examiner argues that the Tea Party would do well to make combating congressional insider trading its marquee legislative issue.
In a piece titled, “Tea Party ‘Outsiders’ Should Raise Hell About Insider Trading by Lawmakers,” the Washington Examiner’s editorial board argues that regardless of what happens with bills like the STOCK (Stop Trading On Congressional Knowledge) Act or the recently introduced RESTRICT (Restoring Ethical Standards, Transparency, and Responsibility in Congressional Trading) Act, Tea Party members of Congress can still take action by bringing complaints to the Ethics Committee.
From the Washington Examiner:
[Members of Congress] and members of their staffs are free to make millions on information they get by virtue of being in Congress, whether ordinary citizens like it or not.
That doesn’t mean, however, that complaints cannot be brought against them with the House and Senate ethics authorities for abusing the public trust or creating the appearance of conflicts of interest. And that raises an interesting question, particularly for Tea Party members of Congress: Why haven’t they filed such complaints, if for no other reason than to further highlight the hypocrisy of congressional ethics enforcement? Dozens of those Republicans who were elected in 2010, supposedly as “outsiders,” have been strangely quiet on this issue. What other issue more effectively illustrates the need to, as Schweizer pungently puts it, throw them all out and rid Congress of the stench of corruption?
Tea Party Republicans in Congress have also expressed frustration at their inability to reform federal spending, debt and entitlements. Their impatience is understandable, but the Constitution wisely forces reform movements like the Tea Party to win successive elections. Doing that requires continuously reminding voters of what must be done to fix things. Filing ethics complaints and publicizing them at every opportunity would serve that purpose admirably.
What’s more, writes the Examiner, the delays–some would say foot-dragging–over the complexities and intricacies of banning congressional insider trading are just that: dilatory tactics designed to muddle the issue and whisk it under the national carpet.
That, says the Examiner, means the issue represents a unique opportunity for the Tea Party to claim the anti-insider trading mantle and use the bipartisan issue to advance its Constitution-focused agenda.
It wouldn’t hurt, either, for Tea Party Republicans in Congress to remind their colleagues that the Constitution gives the Senate and House of Representatives authority to discipline representatives and senators as required to maintain public trust. That means the recent huffing and puffing about the alleged difficulties of passing complicated new laws explicitly banning insider trading by members is a purposeful delay until the issue goes away. With public approval of Congress at record lows, however, it’s more likely they will be going away long before the issue of congressional corruption does.
Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) has promised prompt action in 2012 to ban congressional insider trading.
With all eyes on Capitol Hill focused on the issue at the start of 2012, as the Washington Examiner notes, the Tea Party appears poised to play a potentially pivotal in the outcome of any eventual ban on congressional insider trading.