Repeal of insider trading ban frees top officials to line their pockets again

Congress passed the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act in 2012 in response to the public outcry over members' self-serving insider trading scandal last year. As with most laws, what is a crime for citizens was not illegal or unethical for members of Congress and their staffs. The STOCK Act addressed this loophole by requiring lawmakers and government officials to post their financial transactions online.

It was a fleeting moment of transparency and accountability. Like a cowardly thief in the night, members of Congress quietly colluded to repeal the reporting requirements of the STOCK Act this year by unanimous consent: The shameful ordeal took all of 10 seconds in the Senate and 14 seconds in the House.

After all the highly publicized and hugely profitable insider trading, and the resulting damage to the public trust, Congress reneged on its promise of transparency and accountability to again profit from inside information about the financial activities it oversees.

Is it any wonder the 535 members of Congress are held in such low esteem? An approval rating of 13.5 percent, and a disapproval rate of 80.3 percent, should be troubling, but apparently it's not.

It is shameful how Congress regards "doing the peoples work" as a free pass to profit whenever and however possible.

Melvin Barnhart, Randallstown

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