Democrats controlled all three branches of government for the first two years of President Barack Obama’s presidency and did nothing to advance congressional insider trading reform. Indeed, former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) have been cited as among Congress’s worst abusers of using nonpublic information to influence their private stock trades. And until his State of the Union speech last week, President Obama had said nothing publicly about the issue–ever.
But now, in the wake of Breitbart editor Peter Schweizer’s blockbuster bestselling insider trading expose, Throw Them All Out, and the 60 Minutes report the book sparked, Mr. Obama and his campaign team have begun co-opting the insider trading issue, first in Mr. Obama’s State of the Union speech and now in a new campaign email blasting House Republicans for inaction on the issue and praising the Democratic leadership of Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) in the Senate.
The Obama-Biden email, with a subject line titled “This isn’t already illegal? Email from O’camp,” reads:
Right now, members of Congress can make personal investment decisions based on confidential information they get in the course of regulating industries and doing their work.
It’s kind of unbelievable that this isn’t already illegal. President Obama wants to make it illegal once and for all — no one should profit from inside information about the very businesses they’re supposed to be regulating.
Today, the Democratic leadership in the Senate voted to move forward on a bill to extend to Congress the same strict rules that apply to anyone else whose job gives them access to sensitive information about businesses. This legislation is expected to pass the Senate with bipartisan support later this week.
But Republicans in the House have yet to move on it.
There aren’t a lot of good reasons to disagree with this bill. So the question here isn’t how many people we have to persuade, but simply how loudly we can speak up to prevent the House Republicans from dodging this issue.
Say you support the President on banning insider trading in Congress:
Thanks, and stay tuned,
National Policy Director
Obama for America
The email appears to be part of a coordinated campaign by Democrats to seize the congressional insider trading issue that had for years remained dormant under their leadership.
On Monday, Sen. Harry Reid shocked Republicans in the Senate when he charged them with seeking to block a vote on the insider trading bill and sprang a cloture vote without ever notifying the Republican leadership. Sen. Reid said:
I’m really disappointed that I had to file cloture to stop a Republican filibuster on this worthy legislation, but I did. They’re not going to let us move to this. We had to file cloture to stop this filibuster … I repeat, it is too bad we had to file cloture.
According to The Hill, Republicans were “mystified”:
A senior Republican aide, however, shot back on Monday that Reid had not checked in with Minority Leader Mitch McConnelll’s (Ky.) office to see if any of any GOP members had objections, and suggested Republicans were mystified on why Democratic leadership filed cloture.
“Sen. Reid didn’t even check in with us before filing cloture so it came as a surprise when he did it,” he said.
Despite the Obama campaign and Sen. Reid’s contentions, Republican Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) is one of the cosponsors to the Senate version of the STOCK (Stop Trading On Congressional Knowledge) Act and urged Mr. Obama after his State of the Union speech to put pressure on Sen. Reid to move the bill forward.
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Furthermore, the Republican-led House has already announced that it plans to take up the insider trading issue in February.
In the interim, however, it appears the Obama campaign and Democrats are determined to seize the congressional insider trading issue and use it as an political bludgeon against Republicans.