Rep. Shuler and H. R. 1148

On Nov. 13, 60 Minutes reported on a “special privilege” members of Congress enjoy: the ability to buy or sell stocks, bond and other securities based on insider information gained while performing their professional duties.

You and I could go to jail — like Martha Stewart — if we acted on insider information for our gain.

A bill (H.R. 1148) to ban members of Congress and their staffers from trading in securities is under review by the House Financial Services Committee. It makes such behavior illegal.

H.R. 1148 now has more than 200 co-sponsors. I recently wrote Rep. Heath Shuler, asking if he supported the bill and would commit himself to enacting it.
His answer was weasel-y and waffling, as one might expect. He wrote back: “Currently, this bill has been referred to the House Financial Services Committee. While I do not sit on this committee, I will monitor this bill’s progress. Should this legislation be brought before the entire House for consideration, I will remember your thoughts on this issue.”

Come on, Congressman. Do you want you and your colleagues to be able to continue to enrich themselves with insider information not available to the law-abiding investing public? Will you co-sponsor H.R. 1148?  “Yes” or “No.”

— William Swarts
Asheville

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