In an attempt to burnish his Wall Street reformer credentials ahead of his race against Harvard Law Professor and consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) today plans to introduce the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act of 2011, which would apply laws against insider trading to members of Congress, who are currently thought to be exempt from such measures. Brown’s move comes after a 60 Minutes report showed that House Financial Services Committee Chairman Spencer Bachus (R-AL) traded on information he received in private briefings at the height of the financial crisis, earning nearly $30,000.
In a statement, Brown said he was introducing the bill because “we serve the public, not our bank accounts”:
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. Serving the public is a privilege and an honor, not an opportunity for personal gain. I hope every Senator will join me in this effort to lend greater credibility to our work and restore trust in this institution. We serve the public, not our bank accounts, and no one should be allowed to enrich themselves based on inside government information that is not available to the general public.
Brown is not the only one pounding away on the insider trading issue today, as Newt Gingrich said earlier that Congress should “absolutely” have to follow laws against insider trading. A version of the STOCK Act was introduced in the House earlier this year, but gained only five co-sponsors.
This is the second thing Brown has done today to bolster his financial reform credibility, following his earlier endorsement of President Obama’s nominee to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. But these positions don’t change the fact that Brown worked to water down key provisions of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law before granting the law his support, actions which earned him the appreciative donations of the financial services industry.