Rep. Eric Cantor may have had to capitulate to the overwhelming desire to pass the STOCK Act (Stop Trading On Congressional Knowledge Act), which bans legislators from trading stock on their inside information. And he may have had to come to terms with the idea that the American people don’t want their legislators selling stock on privileged information, but he made damned sure that there was no capitulation to Wall Street—that private entities could still trade on this information.
The STOCK Act passed in the House yesterday by 417-2 and in the Senate 96-3 (on February 2nd), but an important provision was excised by Eric Cantor—one that would regulate political intelligence firms who gather information for banks, corporations, hedge funds and other investors.
The political intelligence regulation provision passed in the Senate, but did not in the House, so it is possible that it will be resurrected in committee. However, with our government’s very special relationship with Wall Street, no one should count on it.
Cantor’s explanation for the provision’s elimination? “That provision raises an awful lot of questions,” stated Cantor Thursday on the House floor. “There is a lot of discussion and debate about who and what would qualify and fall under the suggested language that came from the Senate. That is why we are calling for a study.”
Even fellow Republican Rep. Chuck Grassley was surprised by Cantor’s move, saying, “It’s astonishing and extremely disappointing that the House would fulfill Wall Street’s wishes by killing this provision.”
There is no fundamental flaw in a provision banning Wall Street banks and investors from trading in political intelligence; it is only the last ditch effort to protect Wall Street interests.