Before serving in Congress, I served 24 years in the National Guard and was a social studies teacher at Mankato West High School. For over 10 years, I taught students of southern Minnesota about the honor of public service. Public service is a privilege. The trust placed in elected officials by their community means that, as representatives of the community, we must be held to the highest of standards. That's why when I came to Congress, I was shocked and outraged to learn there were no clear laws prohibiting members of Congress from using nonpublic information -- gained through their jobs -- to enrich themselves.
Members of Congress and their staff should not be able to profit from the honor of public service. Members have access to information that their neighbors do not. The American people deserve to know that their elected officials aren't gaming the system. They deserve to know that this behavior is illegal.
This is why I reintroduced the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act (STOCK Act) last March. The STOCK Act, which has been introduced in every Congress since 2006, explicitly bans members of Congress, their staff, and other federal employees from buying or selling securities, swaps, or commodity futures based on congressional and executive branch nonpublic information.
Before media reports shed light on the issue last November, we had only nine members of Congress who supported this common-sense legislation. However, as the public has learned about this issue and become rightfully outraged about it, they have demanded action. Currently, we have 273 members of Congress who have not only signaled their support, but signed on as cosponsors. We can start to restore the American people's faith in democracy and the work of their government by passing the STOCK Act today.
This is why yesterday, I -- along with my colleague, Rep. Louise Slaughter -- filed the paperwork to move the STOCK Act (H.R. 1148) forward in House for a clean, up-or-down vote. With more than 270 cosponsors, there is no excuse not to pass this common-sense legislation.
As the Star Tribune in Minnesota noted, "The bill is smart politics and policy, and is a dose of what's needed to start reversing voters' rampant cynicism."
We need to ensure the people of this country know that lawmakers are working in their best interests, and not the interests of their own bank accounts. We need to pass the STOCK Act today.
Editor's note: To read The Motley Fool's coverage of the STOCK Act, read "The Time Is Now: Let's Stop Congressional Insider Trading."
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