Last month, a 60 Minutes investigation revealed that House Financial Services Chairman Spencer Bachus (R-AL) made stock trades based on information that he received in private briefings during the financial crisis of 2008. Bachus’ trades reportedly netted him around $30,000.
Following the story, Congress suddenly found an interest in blocking its members from trading on information they receive in their official capacity. The Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act, which would ban this sort of activity, picked up dozens of co-sponsors, after it had languished for months with nearly no interest. Bachus was evidently ready and willing to move the bill forward, in an attempt to clean up his own image, but several other Republicans, including House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), put the kibosh on that plan, according to Politico:
A day after Financial Services Committee Chairman Spencer Bachus said he would move forward on an insider-trading bill, Majority Leader Eric Cantor stopped him dead in his tracks.
In a Wednesday meeting described by one source as “extremely direct” and by another as “very blunt,” Cantor (R-Va.) ripped into Bachus, explaining in no uncertain terms that it was unacceptable for Bachus to mark up the bill without having run it by GOP leaders and other chairmen with jurisdiction over its provisions. The Alabama Republican abruptly canceled the vote, which was scheduled for next week. [...]
“We’re not going to cover Spencer’s ass by passing a half-baked bill,” one Republican member of the panel told POLITICO. “Even Barney Frank didn’t pass it in his two terms as chairman and Dem[ocrats] are the lead sponsors. It’s all about Spencer’s bad political position, not the contents of the policy.”
“The public has an absolute right to demand that the people they elect to represent them in Congress conduct themselves according to the highest ethical standards and do not seek to profit from their positions,” Bachus said while announcing his intention to move the legislation forward. However, it seems that his leadership doesn’t quite see things that way.