I may have jumped the gun Wednesday by claiming Senator Kirsten Gillibrand was attempting to gut the proposed bill to ban insider trading by members of Congress.
The language in the version of the bill the New York Democrat proposed would have definitely made the law highly ineffective. It would actually greenlighted insider trading by Senators and House members, so long as they didn't bring in a co-conspirator.
But Gillibrand's people tell me this is not the intent at all. A spokesman for Gillibrand told me they added language to the bill that was meant to make it a violation for a lawmaker to tip off others about pending legislation. The language was intended to make the restrictions on insider trading based on non-public political information tighter, the person said. The language in the bill itself was simply a technical error that didn't reflect the intent of Gillibrand.
Certainly Gillibrand's comments at today's hearings support this view.
“Others may say this bill will be too weak. Let me be clear — our mission is to pass a strong bill with teeth that will make any and all insider trading clearly illegal and a violation of Congressional rules for all members of Congress, their families and their staff. As we move forward, there will be technical changes in the language to improve the bill and ensure the final product meets this goal. Anything less is unacceptable," she said.
My post yesterday was based on reading the bill rather than conversations with Gillibrand's staff. In fairness to them, I should have called to check if the language reflected their intent. They now say it definitely did not.
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