February 2022 Newsletter

Insider Trading: A Bipartisan Initiative by Vickie Deppe

Townsend Announces bid for Congress

Article V News

Insider Trading: A Bipartisan Initiative by Vickie Deppe

Late last year, Business Insider broke a months-long investigation into financial conflicts-of-interest involving members of Congress and senior staff. Conflicted Congress revealed that hundreds of elected officials and senior staffers from both parties and throughout the nation have had financial interests in companies about which they have insider knowledge, have been tasked with regulating, or both. Dozens invest in industries they publicly decry such as tobacco, media, and fossil fuels.

You may be wondering, “why isn’t there a law?” Well, there is: it’s called the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act. In 2012—after an embarrassing 60 Minutes exposé—Congress was shamed into passing legislation requiring its members and staff to live under the same insider trading laws that had governed the rest of us for decades. Amid much fanfare, the STOCK Act was passed just months before the November elections in an attempt to quell voter outrage directed at incumbents up for reelection; but just a few months after being sworn in, Congress moved quickly and quietly to suspend the rules and forego debate on a bill to gut the reporting requirements necessary for enforcement of the statute. Business Insider now describes obtaining these records as “nearly impossible.” The Campaign Legal Center reports that the “first true enforcement of the STOCK Act” didn’t happen for nearly a decade after it was signed into law, and only after they lodged over a dozen complaints with the Office of Congressional Ethics.

Unfortunately, this is not an isolated situation. Congress has been explicitly excusing itself from federal statutes for at least 80 years, including the Fair Labor Standards Act, the sexual harassment protections contained in the Civil Rights Act, the Whistleblower Protection Act, age discrimination statutes, OSHA regulations, the Americans with Disabilities Act, family & medical leave provisions, and some “robocall” prohibitions. When caught, they do as little as they possibly can to appear to address the misconduct, but then work to restore their privilege as quickly as they think they can get away with it. (Think: #MeToo.)

While the idea of politicians leveraging their office to enrich themselves is galling, it is even more troubling to think that our elected officials may be prioritizing the interests of their portfolio over those of their constituents. Worse, this decades-long track record demonstrates that members of Congress have, for generations, been positioning themselves as a ruling elite instead of the citizen legislators the Constitution intends. Article V provides state legislators with both the opportunity and responsibility to put an end to this kind of systemic corruption.

Townsend Announces bid for Congress

State Senator and State Legislators Article V Caucus Steering Committee member Kelly Townsend has launched her campaign for the newly-drawn Arizona Congressional District 6. Former Chair of the House Federalism and States’ Rights Committee, Townsend has been a long-time advocate of federalism and Article V.  She represented Arizona at the Assembly of State Legislatures, and served as Planning Committee Chair and President of the 2017 BBA Planning Convention. Both gatherings of state legislators and their designees drafted rules for consideration by delegates to a future Article V Convention. The BBA Planning Convention also launched the Phoenix Correspondence Commission (see below). Townsend sponsored Article V applications for congressional term limits, a balanced budget amendment, and the three-prong Convention of States Project application. Sen. Townsend pledges to continue her Article V advocacy in Washington by working to ensure that Congress discharges its duty to call a convention when it has been noticed with the requisite 34 applications.

Article V News

The Phoenix Correspondence Commission (PCC) will hold a Zoom meeting for Permanent Delegates and Initial Representatives on Friday, February 11. The PCC was formed to facilitate ongoing Article V communication among states and between the states and Congress, particularly where it concerns a convention to propose a Balanced Budget Amendment. If you are your state’s Permanent Delegate or Initial Representative and want to participate, or if you are interested in representing your state, please contact Executive Director Bruce Lee at bruce.lee.pcc@gmail.com.

 

Utah State Representative Ken Ivory has filed HJR 9, demanding that Congress call an Article V Convention for the purpose of proposing an amendment to the United States Constitution to impose fiscal restraints on the federal government toward achieving a balanced federal budget. The resolution argues that for decades after 1979—when Nevada became the 34th state to submit such an application—there were 34 or more state applications requiring that Congress call a convention of states for proposing amendments. This resolution encourages Utah’s congressional delegation as well as other states to join Utah in demanding that Congress fulfill its obligation, albeit belatedly. The resolution also requests that Congress designate the state-convention method for ratification. This was the method employed to ratify the Constitution itself as well as the 21st Amendment repealing Prohibition, and allows the possibility for voters to express their position on proposed amendments directly. State Senator Rex Rice has filed a similar resolution in South Carolina

The Wisconsin and Nebraska legislatures have become the 16th and 17th states to pass the Convention of States Project application calling for an Article V Convention to limit the scope & jurisdiction of the federal government and impose fiscal controls and term limits on its officials. A video montage of statements of support from legislators and citizens may be viewed HERE. South Dakota and New York have introduced the CoSP application, and Rick Santorum joined CoSP supporters at the Ohio House State & Local Government Committee to offer testimony on HJR 1. A committee vote is pending.

 

New Jersey passed SJR 161, rescinding all Article V applications including the Wolf-PAC application passed in 2015. Another rescission has been pre-filed in Oklahoma. Progress of SJR 41 can be tracked here.

 

Arizona, Indiana, the Kentucky House, the Kentucky Senate, Missouri, and South Dakota have introduced the US Term Limits application. Dozens of candidates for state and national office have signed the USTL pledge in recent weeks.

 

Article V Convention Delegate Selection and Oversight measures have been introduced in Mississippi, West Virginia, and New Hampshire.

 

Who Said It?

Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.

Thomas Jefferson

Bill for the More General Diffusion of Knowledge

1778

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