Feb 02 2012

Shelby on STOCK Act: Transparency Is Good For Everyone

U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), ranking Republican on the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, today introduced an amendment to the STOCK Act that would require the executive branch to comply with the same public reporting requirements that the bill places on Members of Congress and their staffs.  The amendment passed in the Senate 58-41. Shelby, a supporter of the STOCK Act, made the following statement regarding his amendment on the Senate floor:

“Mr. President, I rise again today to speak on behalf of fairness.  We have heard quite a bit from the President on the campaign trail about fairness.   But, it appears that there is no interest in fairness when it comes to transparency for the executive branch. 

“The bill we are currently debating will subject Congress to additional reporting requirements for certain financial transactions.  The goal is to ensure that Members of Congress and congressional staff are not using their unique access to confidential information for personal gain.  This is an appropriate goal and one that I fully support. 

“I do not understand, however, why the additional reporting requirements do not extend to members of the executive branch who arguably have even greater access to such confidential information.  It only seems fair that executive branch officials who are already required to file annual financial reports, also be directed to meet the same additional reporting requirements being imposed on the legislative branch.

“I have yet to hear a compelling argument against equity between the branches.  Some have argued that the executive branch has other ways to deal with insider trading.  But, none of those will subject executive branch employees to the same public scrutiny.  What is good for the goose, it seems to me, should be good for the gander.  I understand that there is a willingness on the other side to expand the reporting requirements, but it would fall far short of parity.

“Mr. President, some have said that it would cost too much.  But, if we are willing to expand the population of executive branch officials required to report publicly, then any further expansion will only present marginal additional costs. 

“Currently, less than one percent of the executive branch workforce is required to file financial disclosure statements.  My parity amendment will not expand that universe; it will only require them to meet the same reporting standards that will apply to the legislature.

“As I understand it, the Democrat alternative to my amendment would produce some bizarre results.  For example, a Senate office administrator who meets the reporting threshold would be required to report publicly as directed in this bill, but the Head of Enforcement at the Securities and Exchange Commission would not.  A Senate scheduler may have to make additional public disclosures, but the General Counsel of the Fed would not. 

“Mr. President, this is not fair and unacceptable.  My amendment simply says that if you are an executive branch or independent agency official and you currently file financial disclosure reports, you will have to comply with the same public reporting requirements contained in this bill.  My amendment also contains the same military personnel exemption that the Democrat alternative does, as well as the same two-year implementation provision.

“Mr. President, my amendment is simple, fair and deserves the support of every member of this body.  If my friends on the other side of the aisle really believe in fairness, this would be very good way to show it.

“Thank you, Mr. President.  I yield the floor.”

***Attached please find the text of Shelby’s amendment to the STOCK Act***

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