Senior executives group finds risks in STOCK Act

Richard Drew/AP
The Senior Executives Association has renewed its complaints on some elements of the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act, calling the requirement for an online database of high-ranking career executives’ financial information an invasion of privacy, a security threat and an obstacle to recruiting top-level talent.

The STOCK Act is an “inadequately considered law, unfortunately enacted with extreme haste in an election year,” SEA wrote in a position paper released Tuesday.

The group cited Sections 6 and 11 of the law, which require senior executives to file a report of a financial transaction within 30 days and the Office of Government Ethics to create a publicly accessible online database of those reports.

Senior federal executives previously were required to file financial disclosure reports that were available to the public only on written request. SEA argued this requirement was sufficient.

The new provisions, the association wrote, make it easier for identity thieves to target executives and increase the risks for federal employees who are traveling or stationed abroad, as they could come under scrutiny by “foreign interests, including terrorists.”

SEA also voiced concern that executives -- and their spouses and dependents, who also will be required to file -- will be undermined by subordinates who will use the information to create tension in the office.

The group said it already has heard from potential senior executive candidates, who have said they would prefer to stay at their GS 14 or 15 levels to avoid the strict requirements laid out in the STOCK Act. They predicted the law also would dissuade political appointees from accepting positions.

“Those provisions were really meant to kill the bill,” said Melanie Sloan, executive director at Citizens for Responsible Ethics in Washington, a watchdog organization that has been supportive of the STOCK Act. “[SEA’s] concerns sound significant. Hopefully, [the Republicans in Congress] will reconsider, but I doubt it. Overall, they don’t like government employees.”

SEA said it has not gained support from lawmakers yet in its efforts to overturn the provisions, although Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., has voiced an openness to “examining the problem.”

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