Stock Act Loopholes Open Spousal Side-Doors

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Empty House of Representatives // credit: westorlandonews
Empty House of Representatives // credit: westorlandonews

If you’re a red or blue duopolist—life is good. About half the time your party is in power, and the other half you get to feed off capitalist crumbs. Kurt Vonnegut told the story of the concentration camp prisoners who divided up the day’s meager loaf. All the captives were emaciated except the person who divvied up the bread—the crumb-winner.

Snopes.com has a story out about Sen. Feinstein’s husband landing a sweet deal to dispose of some post office properties. Supreme Court Justice Thomas’ wife is a lobbyist. House Majority leader Mitch McConnell’s wife sits on many corporate boards and has significant business dealings with China.

If you would like your eyes opened to other hair raising behavior you should read Peter Schweizer’s Throw Them All Out. Here is what Schweizer recently said in a Religion & Liberty interview about the behavior of elected government officials and the concept of term limits,

“This idea has been pushed that we need to have this highly specialized, very smart leadership who’s been there for a long time, who understands the issues to help us run the country, so to speak, and run the economy. To which my response is, look at the results with the economy and with the national debt. I think if anything the experience argues for injecting more citizen legislators who are going to make the tough choices rather than continuing to rely on the self perpetuating elite.”

While I take exception to the national debt being a problem—today, I totally agree with the “self-perpetuating elite,” referred to in some cultures as “monarchs.”

The Stock Act has been gutted twice, once to allow family insider trading, which I have come to call the Spousal Insider Trading Empowerment Act. And again on a sleepy Friday afternoon before a holiday weekend to remove pertinent financial disclosure.

In a poll of independents, conservatives, and liberals where their opinions are given equal weight, the Stock Act in its original form garnered a 93% positive tripartisan rating. Further evidence that ending Stock Act loopholes has broad support, regardless of political affiliation.

Another poll of democrats, republicans and independents run by the Public Campaign Action Fund, has 81% in favor of closing the revolving door similarly. But allowing spouses to benefit while their partner is serving in government isn’t even a revolving door it’s a capitalist commune or the spousal side-door.

Should spouses be exempt from insider trading regulations?

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26 comments
Ulfr Dokkr
Ulfr Dokkr

We need our own Bastille Day to bring down the elitist.

Tim Daniel
Tim Daniel

Criminal. Of course spouses of members of Congress should not be exempted from insider trading regulations. What has this country come to?

Mickey Osteen
Mickey Osteen

MOST OF CONGRESS AND THE SENATE HAS NEVER HELD A JOB BUT AFTER SEVERAL YEARS IN OFFICE THEY ARE WORTH MILLIONS ???????

Elizabeth Airhart
Elizabeth Airhart

Hell no. Asked Martha Stewart, she went to jail for it.it's against the law and should not be above the law.

John Weavers
John Weavers

If you or I did it we would go to prison.

James Ryan
James Ryan

No, they should not have that *privilege

Chad Peace
Chad Peace

Problem is, as a practical consideration, prevention of insider trading is really difficult. At the end of the day, Congress deals with some piece of legislation that effects almost everything in our lives. There should be clear conflict of interest rules, but a general "insider trading" legislation would have to be very carefully drafted so that its not over-broad.

Lucas Eaves
Lucas Eaves

The issue of spouses is a difficult one. Because you cannot say that because your husband's does this job, you cannot do yours. But it is obvious that being the spouse of someone in power can open many doors.

Alex Gauthier
Alex Gauthier

If a married couple is legally recognized as one person then why are spouses treated separately when it comes to insider trading? seems counter-intuitive to me.

Chris Doyle
Chris Doyle

We cannot expect them to govern themselves so they should be thrown out until we can find people who can....

Jen
Jen

Nonsense! Representatives are exactly that.

"At the end of the day, Congress deals with some piece of legislation that effects almost everything in our lives."

EXACTLY! Which is why they should be banned from trading entirely. They are public servants, and along with term limits, we should institute a ban on ALL trading by them while in office. This includes family too. Even if it is "overbroad", it affects what.. 1000 people, 5000 people with families included? The same 5000 people who are 100% guaranteed to be in the top 4-5% of the nation's wealthiest. I think they will live.

If people want to represent their country, then let them do it for the people, not the profit. No trading while in office and for 4 years following, limits on lifetime pensions pending performance reviews by a constituency board... You should hold your representatives accountable. Complacency and hesitation to plan ahead is dangerous.

Could you please explain why it is "really difficult?"

What is so difficult about saying "We are paying you 10 times the poverty rate to "vote" in our best interest, and in exchange for this tremendous power of representation, along with all the posh benefits that come with being an 'elite', you cannot perform certain financial actions for this period of time"?

I think it is really simple. Anyone involved with legislation should have these restrictions on their family. There should also be an entire government agency dedicated to preventing, inspecting and prosecuting corruption and financial conflict of government employees. It should be really easy to monitor, you can't trade without a transaction number, and the evidence is outside their control. I can't see why anyone in their right mind wouldn't support cleaning up the government, unless of course they benefit from the system as it is.

It's funny because so many people complain how everything needs regulating.. "Can't trust this industry".. "Can't trust this one either", "Look at their history! They all need regulating!" So, why are those same people usually the ones against regulating the government? I can tell you one thing, looking at history, one of the biggest abusers of human rights since recorded time? Government. In one form or another.

So what do you think, has mankind's nature changed? Why can one group of people not be trusted to self regulation and doing the right thing, yet another group can? Is there a universal law declaring anyone from 'government' is pure and righteous? I am baffled as to why people are content with laying "over broad" legislation on citizens, continuously, so as to virtually destroy every line in the Bill of Rights, yet we must not ever try to control or restrict our "leaders" from exploiting every chance they get to make a nickel? Makes absolutely no sense. We should be laying the overbroad and extremely limiting legislation on them, to limit their power and influence, and ensure their integrity and intentions. Why are we restricting freedoms of the average people, rather than the elite the ones (who are supposed to be representing US!), which control the most powerful nation in the world?

It sounds like you are content to let the rest of the country continue to slide into poverty as the "representatives" continue to give themselves 5% raises on their 175(?)k per year? I mean, we certainly wouldn't want to be "over broad" and stop them from making millions while in office, while we pay them triple digits, now would we? I mean, they might only be able to buy ONE yacht. Oh the horror.

Chad Peace
Chad Peace

Well, that is quite a passionate dissent to my position! :)

I agree which much of what you have to say. I just also believe that a broad "insider trading' law would have much more far reaching implications that it appears. There are practical considerations as simple as ... what if a Congressman has a 401k with a bunch of mutual funds prior to running for office ... do they have to liquidate it? If not, are they restricted from trading on it?

Johnathan Lemons
Johnathan Lemons

Nope...if I would do this I would go to prison. Here is a start: How about he hold EVERYONE TO THE SAME STANDARD!!!! I'm really getting sick and tired of this "you are not rich or powerful, you go to jail. Oh you know such and such, here is a slap on the wrist,"

Ray Weldon
Ray Weldon

So in other words... nothing changed at all.

Scott Bell
Scott Bell

Why not the same rules as Wall Street? Are their family members restricted? Seems we just need to level the rules across the board.

Andy Tiede
Andy Tiede

No matter who or how insider trading is committed. It's still cheating and criminal.

Jen
Jen

How about we strike a deal.. We limit campaign contributions to say, 10 million per candidate, and we can use the leftover (of near $1 billion each), to hash out all the details and pay for the new Government Employee Financial Integrity Agency.

Most of these issues will filter themselves out within a few election cycles once preparing to run for office has changed with these new rules in mind, with candidates liquidating prior or simply running for office younger, rather than being required to have built a small 'empire' before you can even run, therefore possibly not even having those investment vehicles yet. Current accounts can always continue as they are, frozen from access and any change by the family of course, but any current investments should be made public record so the constituency board would be able to weigh in their financial stances with their voting record to determine if they acted in the interest of the people or themselves.

I honestly don't see many implications other than directly on representatives, which unless they are there for personal profit, should have no objections to something like this. It would be another check on government, it would at least provide another roadblock to unfair trading practices, would increase transparency, and for those who are pro regulation, it's more laws and oversight! Sounds like a win on all fronts?