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STOCK Act Endangers National Security, Report Says

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Carper said he would review the study with staff before determining a way forward, noting “a number of serious safety concerns that have been raised” by the report.

In a statement issued after the report’s release Thursday, the American Foreign Service Association expressed the view that the report validated the organization’s concerns, including about security and identity theft.

“The logical conclusion is repeal of this requirement,” AFSA President Susan R. Johnson said. “We strongly encourage Congress to take this opportunity to repeal this provision without delay.”

The NAPA report recommends that Congress impose an indefinite delay on implementation of the online financial transaction database, while allowing other reporting requirements to move forward.

“Based on its findings, the Panel recommends that the STOCK Act’s requirements for online posting of personal financial information not be implemented beyond current coverage under existing law.” the report said. “The Panel believes the federal government should not create public searchable, sortable, downloadable databases for any filer.”

Lawsuits filed by both executive and legislative branch employees against the new public disclosure requirements contend that the new rules would undermine or nullify current requirements that people seeking access to financial disclosure reports disclose their own identities and certify that they will only use the information received for lawful endeavors.

The provision in question came about after adoption of a Senate amendment offered by Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala., that also expanded the scope of the original measure to the executive branch, seeking parity between the branches.

“Sen. Shelby supports parity in application of the STOCK Act. Those similarly situated should abide by the same transparency requirements, regardless of the branch of government in which they serve,” a Shelby spokesman said in an email. “He welcomes the report’s recommendations to more carefully consider how the STOCK Act applies to everyone in government, and believes that we should take this opportunity to develop a disclosure system that promotes transparency in a consistent manner.”

Similar language was included in the final version that became law, which included further changes from House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., which drew some criticism at the time. An earlier House bill didn’t include the same provisions.

When President Barack Obama signed the original STOCK Act in April 2012, lawmakers in both parties applauded the measure, but it subsequently faced a barrage of criticism from current and former government employees and security experts, including former Attorney General Michael Mukasey and former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.

The STOCK Act and similar legislation had long been floating around Congress without action until “60 Minutes” produced a segment on it along with the potential conflicts of interest by members involved in trading financial instruments.

Emily Cahn contributed to this report.

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