WASHINGTON, D.C. (CNN Wire) — Members of Congress and their staffs would be prohibited from using insider legislative information for investment purposes under legislation filed in the wake of a CBS News “60 Minutes” report.
On Sunday, “60 Minutes” aired a report on KPIX-TV CBS 5 and KCBS All News 740 AM & 106.9 FM highlighting instances in which congressional officials reportedly bought stocks around the same time Congress was discussing legislation affecting those companies or industries.
The show looked at the investments of various lawmakers, including U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco).
The bill filed Tuesday by Massachusetts Republican Sen. Scott Brown would make it illegal for elected congressional officials, their staffs and executive branch employees to use information about pending bills that’s not available to the general public in making investment decisions. It would also forbid them from making such information public for personal gain.
Brown’s bill, which he called the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge, or STOCK Act, would clarify insider trading regulations that do not clearly identify whether the use of inside government information constitutes insider trading.
“Members of Congress should live under the same laws as everyone else. If they trade on inside knowledge to line their own pockets, they should be punished,” Brown said in a statement, without referencing any of the officials named in the report. “Serving the public is a privilege and honor, not an opportunity for personal gain.”
Pelosi has fired back at the report, dismissing claims that her 2008 purchase with her husband of 5,000 shares of the initial public offering of credit card company Visa conflicted with a piece of legislation — opposed by credit-card companies — that was making its way through the House.
“It is very troubling that ’60 Minutes’ would base their reporting off of an already-discredited conservative author who has made a career of out attacking Democrats,” Pelosi’s spokesman, Drew Hammill, said in a statement.
He added that Congress passed even stronger credit card legislation at about the same time.
In addition to Pelosi, the CBS News report also looked at investments of House Speaker John Boehner and Republican Rep. Spencer Bachus of Alabama.
(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All rights reserved.)