The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Orange County Congressman Rep. John Campbell (R-Irvine) was one of two Congressional representatives who voted against the STOCK Act (the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge) which passed the House by a vote of 417-2. Campbell, one of the richest men in government, was joined in voting no by Rep. Rob Woodall of Georgia.
Through a spokesman, Campbell reelased a statement to the Journal that ‘he found the bill “ambiguous” and that it could cause members and constituents “to break the law by simply asking or answering a question about the prospects of federal legislation.’ Mr. Campbell’s spokesman said Mr. Campbell inherited the stocks after his father died and sold them in 2006 to avoid conflicts.”
It’s hard to see Campbell’s argument. The STOCK Act is very straightforward. From the Journal’s story:
“There is nothing wrong with members of Congress trading stocks. The Stock Act won’t prevent them from buying and selling shares, and there is no suggestion that any sponsor engaged in insider trading.
But some members of Congress who do trade say they are aware of potential pitfalls because they may have access to nonpublic information about government contracts, developments in their districts and other market-moving intelligence.
“I’ve always believed Newport News shipyard stock [now part of Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc.] is a good investment,” said Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott, a Virginia Democrat whose district includes the shipyard, which does work for the Navy and at times has been owned by public companies. “But I never bought any stock because I’m always privy to information that’s nonpublic.”
Mr. Scott, who buys and sells stocks online, said he invested in 2008 in Carnival Corp., the cruise-line company, because he believed tourism would pick up. (That stock plunged after one of its ships sank this year in Italy.) He invested in Audible.com, a provider of digital audio books now owned by Amazon.com Inc., because “they got a lot of my money” for downloads he listened to in the car and figured he wasn’t the only one. “I was right,” he said. “It just occurred to me—that’s not anything I learned in Congress.”
Mr. Scott co-sponsored the Stock Act in late November, after a “60 Minutes” program highlighted it, following earlier articles in The Wall Street Journal. He said he hadn’t been aware of the bill in earlier years and “just assumed” that lawmakers were covered by existing insider-trading prohibitions.”
What’s particularly interesting is that Campbell is teamming up with Massachusetts Democrat Barney Frank on an online gambling bill.
From the Pokerati Blog:
Campbell will be on hand in San Francisco in May as a keynote speaker for GIGSE 2011. The Global iGaming Summit and Expo was once one of the pre-eminent “annual” gaming conferences in the world, but went on a two-year hiatus after a move from Montreal to Malta. Returning to North America, and specifically US soil (California, no less!) seems to be a big deal for the conference and the gambling industry overall.
GIGSE says it has no political agenda — though its 2011 lineup of speakers suggests licensed and regulated online gaming in the US really is a matter of when not if. In addition to Campbell and likely supporters of his bills such as the PPA, conference speakers will include representatives from the Department of Justice, California Indians, other Native American gaming interests, Caesars Interactive, iMEGA, the Kentucky horse racing industry, various lottery interests, Jeffery Pollack’s Federated Sports+Gaming … and several others who have long found themselves at opposing ends of mutual interests.