Rep. Louise Slaughter an original co-sponsor of the STOCK Act six years ago urged her colleagues to reinsert language to regulate a growing K Street industry and make the STOCK Act as strong as it was when I first introduced it.
The original language of the Senate bill — as well as the version released by the House — sought a yearlong study about the sale of political intelligence, how it is used by investors and what effect it has on the financial markets. But the Senate amendment offered by Grassley would require those who provide political intelligence for the “use in analyzing securities or commodities, markets or informing investment decisions” to register under the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995. That would have unintended consequences, experts told Roll Call.
It’s “grafting a whole new category onto the existing Lobbying Disclosure Act — it’s broad, vague and problematic,” Walker said.
The American League of Lobbyists, though critical of the language in the Senate bill, also blasted Cantor’s decision to remove the provision entirely.
“While that language was seriously flawed by vagueness and given little opportunity for thoughtful consideration, the language did deal with a gaping loophole in the [Lobbying Disclosure Act] that allows thousands of others to lobby but avoid registering as lobbyists,” the group said in a statement.
Another section in the Senate version called the Public Corruption Prosecution Improvements Act is intended to clarify the definition of “official act” and the crime of accepting illegal gratuities in existing public corruption statutes.
Though that provision has been stripped from the House version, experts say its inclusion in final legislation would run counter to a series of recent legal decisions, creating ambiguities in the law as courts attempt to sort out its intended effect.
“I wouldn’t call it the STOCK Act anymore, I’d call it the ‘Omnibus Crime Act,’” Stan Brand of the Brand Law Group said of the language.
An amendment in the House version that would prohibit Members of Congress from participating in initial public offerings to which they had received special access proved to be a less controversial change. Though it was dubbed the “Pelosi provision” after “60 Minutes” highlighted House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s participation in Visa Inc.’s initial public offering, the California Democrat said the reform effort should move forward and differences should be worked out after the House votes.
“Leader Cantor has put roadblock after roadblock up to slow this bill down, and it is now clear that the only way to heed the President’s call is to pass Cantor’s bill so we can get a conference committee where Democrats will strengthen the final legislation,” Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill said in a statement.
Democrats also assailed Cantor for redrafting the bill in secret.