U.S. President Obama signs the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C. on April 4, 2012. The law makes members of Congress subject to the same insider trading laws that apply to everyone else. UPI/Kevin Dietsch | License Photo
WASHINGTON, April 4 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama signed into law Wednesday legislation that bans insider trading by Congress.
The Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act of 2012 prohibits members of Congress, executive branch employees, federal judges and judicial employees from using "non-public information derived from their official positions for personal profit," the White House said.
The new law also requires that financial forms of certain federal employees be made available to the public electronically.
"The STOCK Act makes it clear that if members of Congress use non-public information to gain an unfair advantage in the market, then they are breaking the law," the president said Wednesday at the bill signing. "It creates new disclosure requirements and new measures of accountability and transparency for thousands of federal employees. That is a good and necessary thing. We were sent here to serve the American people and look out for their interests -- not to look out for our own interests."
Obama, who had called for the legislation in his State of the Union address, said further measures to "limit the corrosive influence of money in politics" are needed.
"We should limit any elected official from owning stocks in industries that they have the power to impact. We should make sure people who bundle campaign contributions for Congress can't lobby Congress, and vice versa. These are ideas that should garner bipartisan support," he said.
He said "the idea that everybody plays by the same rules" a cherished American value. "It goes hand in hand with our fundamental belief that hard work should pay off and responsibility should be rewarded."
The measure received bipartisan support from the House and Senate.
A CBS News "60 Minutes" report last fall spotlighted alleged congressional insider trading. The report relied heavily on research from Hoover Institution research fellow Peter Schweizer.