Keeping tabs of financial conflicts of interest on Capitol Hill just got more difficult. On Tuesday, President Obama signed a bill passed by Congress that would prevent financial disclosure forms filed by senior governmental employees from being posted online.
Washington DC politicians can breathe easier now that Obama has better enabled insider trading for them.
The bill passed both the House of Representative and the Senate on a voice vote. In a voice vote, now members of Congress’s votes are not recorded. The Senate and House both cleared the legislation by unanimous consent, taking only ten seconds in the Senate and 14 seconds in the House of consideration to pass. The bill represents a major blow to government transparency, according to government watchdog groups.
The bill modifies the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act, a law passed to combat insider trading. The bill effectively repeals a provision that requires financial disclosure forms to posted online into a searchable database in order to be easily assessed. Proponents of repealing the measure argued that it would increase the risk of identify theft and other crimes against disclosures as well as security concerns for the government.
Dan Auble of the Center for Responsive Politics said of the bill,
Without the provisions, the STOCK act is made toothless. Insider trading by members of Congress and federal employees is still prohibited, but the ability of watchdog groups to verify that Congress is following its own rules is severely limited because these records could still be filed on paper — an unacceptably outdated practice that limits the public’s access.
This is not true disclosure.