A little-noticed bill by Rep. Tim Walz is gaining national attention this week after CBS’ “60 Minutes” aired an expose on insider training by members of Congress. Walz, along with Rep. Louise Slaughter of New York, introduced a bill to make the practice illegal in March.
The “60 Minutes” report alleged that some members of Congress were benefiting from insider information, allegations that leaders like House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and House Speaker John Boehner have denied. The allegations contend that members of Congress have bought and sold stock in companies that pending legislation would impact, which is legal.
Walz introduced his bill to end that type of insider trading and make it illegal for members of Congress, the same as it is for corporate leaders.
“This is about faith in the markets, it’s about faith in democracy, it’s quite honestly what I think irritates people if they believe someone is gaming the system, it hurts all of us,” Walz told KEYC News.
Although the bill, titled the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act, has only one Republican among its nine sponsors, Walz’ bill is already getting some measured support from Republicans.
“I am for increased disclosure,” said Majority Leader Eric Cantor. “If there’s any sense of impropriety or any appearance of that, we should take extra steps to make sure that the public’s cynicism is addressed.”
And it’s become a campaign issue in Minnesota.
Brian Barnes, a DFL candidate challenging Republican Rep. Erik Paulsen in Minnesota’s Third Congressional District, called on Paulsen to work to end insider trading in Congress.
“This reprehensible practice—which would land business people in jail—should be banned immediately,” Barnes said. “Therefore, I am asking Rep. Erik Paulsen to join with me in condemning the members of both parties who have engaged this insider trading they themselves made legal. I am also calling on the congressman to sponsor legislation to make this disgusting conduct what it should be—criminal.”