Scientists join opposition to STOCK Act disclosure requirements

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A group representing scientists has come out against provisions of the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act that force senior executives to share their personal investments in an online database, calling the requirements an unfair and unnecessary invasion of privacy.

The Association of Scientists, which represents scientists in the National Institutes of Health and others receiving federal research grants, said the law will put its members at risk for identity theft and will drive top scholars to the private sector, where they can have more privacy. The organization said the requirements that were in effect prior to the April 4 signing of the STOCK Act are sufficient, and the new provisions are creating superfluous administrative tasks that take away from accomplishing real work.

The group wrote a letter Monday to the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee -- Sens. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, respectively -- to voice its concerns.

“The Assembly of Scientists supports the STOCK Act’s stand against insider trading, which is illegal and immoral,” the group wrote in the letter. “But we are very concerned that the STOCK Act creates burdens that we believe are deleterious to the ability of NIH and other U.S. institutions of science to best accomplish their missions.”

The organization argued existing federal law prohibits its 600 members from regulating, consulting with and making public policy for private industry. The disclosures, they argued, therefore are unnecessary.

The Senior Executives Association also has voiced opposition to these STOCK Act provisions.

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