Obama Signs Congressional Insider Trading Ban

Article excerpt

Byline: Kevin Wack

WASHINGTON a President Obama signed legislation Wednesday that bars insider trading by members of Congress and creates new financial disclosure requirements for thousands of executive branch employees.

Obama hailed the bipartisan measure as a step toward showing that members of Congress play by the same rules as everyone else, but he also said that more needs to be done.

"We were sent here to serve the American people and look out for their interests, not to look out for our own interests," Obama said in remarks at the White House. "So I'm very proud to sign this bill into law."

"There's obviously more that we can do to close the deficit of trust and limit the corrosive influence of money in politics," he added. "We should limit any elected official from owning stocks in industries that they have the power to impact. We should make sure people who bundle campaign contributions for Congress, can't lobby Congress, and vice versa."

The STOCK Act languished in Congress for years until late last year when "60 Minutes" aired a report that raised questions about whether certain members of Congress had used information they learned on the job for their own personal gain.

Among the members highlighted was House Financial Services Committee Chairman Spencer Bachus, who profited from trades he executed shortly after meeting with Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke near the height of the financial crisis in September 2008. The Alabama Republican has denied wrongdoing, and the matter is under investigation by the Office of Congressional Ethics.

Obama called on Congress to pass the legislation during his State of the Union address in January, which also helped trigger congressional action.

The Senate acted first, passing a bill that not only barred insider trading by members of Congress, but would also have required firms that sell information they gather on Capitol Hill to register as lobbyists. …