Duffy Op-ed: RESTRICT Act

Jan 31, 2012Columns

Congress Should Serve the People – Not Their Portfolios

By Rep. Sean Duffy

A few months ago, Breitbart News editor and author Peter Schweizer published a book titled “Throw Them All Out” which suggested that Members of Congress were using their influence and access in the legislative process to fatten their investment portfolios.

A 60 Minutes piece followed which brought the issue to national attention and rightfully caused Americans to wonder: “Is my representative using the power I’ve entrusted in him for personal gains in the stock market?”

As one of the new 87 freshman who was sent to Washington to clean up the mess, I think we owe it to the American people – to clean up the mess. And that includes the reputation and perception that Members of Congress operate above the law. Congress ought to hold itself to a higher standard.

In this instance, the highest standard is one that removes any doubt of insider trading.  That is why I recently introduced the Restoring Ethical Standards, Transparency and Responsibility in Congressional Trading (RESTRICT Act), which requires all Members of Congress and their Senior Staff to either move their assets into a blind trust or disclose any transaction within three days. 

To be clear, I’m not directly aware of Members of Congress profiting from insider information. But even if the problem isn’t rampant, doesn’t it make sense to remove any doubt of abuse?

The RESTRICT Act is the ONLY way to stop any real or perceived insider trading by Members of Congress. 

Other Members of Congress have introduced similar pieces of legislation such as the STOCK Act, which requires Members to disclose $1,000 trades within 90 days. While I commend their efforts, the truth is that the STOCK Act doesn’t go far enough and, frankly, has loopholes you can drive a truck through.  For example, under the STOCK Act, a Member of Congress could trade $50,000 in one day in 50 trades at $950 a trade and never trigger the reporting requirement.

In contrast, the RESTRICT Act is simple and straightforward.  A refreshing change for a Congress accustomed to huge bills with carve-outs and loopholes to avoid the very practice the bill was intended to prevent.

When discussing the RESTRICT Act, Schweizer recently said:

“The RESTRICT Act is by far the best way to start addressing the problems of insider trading in Congress.  It provides a simple transparent and direct approach that will help the American people hold their elected leaders more accountable.”

It’s time Congress led with the transparency and accountability worthy of our office.  In an age of dysfunctional government and growing public cynicism, The RESTRICT Act is one of those rare bills that can help restore confidence in government and unite common-sense Americans on both sides of the aisles.  What citizen doesn’t want to limit corruption and make sure Congress is working in the best interest of the people who elected them?

Let’s work together to restore high ethical standards in Congress – please share this column with your friends today.  Help me spread the word about how we can “go all the way” to end Congressional insider trading by passing the RESTRICT Act.