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Thursday, January 10, 2013

The STOCK Act, Insider Trading, and Public Financial Reporting by Federal Officials

Jack Maskell
Legislative Attorney

The STOCK Act (Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act of 2012) was signed into law on April 4, 2012. It affirms and makes explicit the fact that there is no exemption from the “insider trading” laws and regulations for Members of Congress, congressional employees, or any federal officials. The law also expressly affirms that all federal officials have a “duty” of trust and confidentiality with respect to nonpublic, material information which they may receive in the course of their official duties, and a duty not to use such information to make a private profit.

The STOCK Act, as part of the law’s regulation of securities transactions by public officials, now requires expedited, periodic public disclosure of covered “financial transactions” by all officials in the executive and legislative branches of the federal government who are covered by the public reporting provisions of the Ethics in Government Act of 1978, as amended. The act thus works to require not only annual public reporting of such transactions (which reporting has been required since 1978), but also now requires public reporting within 30 days of receipt of a notice of a covered financial transaction (but in no event more than 45 days after such transaction).

The act as originally adopted requires all public financial disclosure statements filed under the Ethics in Government Act in the legislative and executive branches to eventually be made in electronic form, and to be posted on the Internet where they may be publicly searched, sorted, and, if a log-in protocol is followed, downloaded from official government websites. Amendments to the Stock Act have delayed the Internet posting requirements of the public personal financial disclosure reports filed in May of 2012, and the Internet posting of the periodic transaction reports, until April 15, 2013, for most covered employees in the legislative and executive branches of the U.S. government, until a study can be made on the potential impact of having such personal financial information available in the Internet. However, the requirement for Internet posting of the financial disclosure reports and all financial information filed by Members of Congress, the President and Vice President, candidates for Congress, and federal officials appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate in positions on the Executive Schedule at Levels I and II, are in effect and are required to be posted on the Internet as of September 30, 2012.

Date of Report: December 14, 2012
Number of Pages: 10
Order Number: R42495
Price: $29.95

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