Congressman joins chorus of concern over STOCK Act provisions

Caitlin Fairchild/GovExec.com

A Maryland Democrat has voiced concerns over disclosure requirements for federal workers included in the recently passed Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act.

In a letter written to the U.S. Office of Government Ethics on Tuesday, Rep. Chris Van Hollen called himself an “advocate of open and transparent government” and said he supports the disclosure requirements in principle, but pointed to security concerns that should be addressed.

Van Hollen wrote that pre-STOCK Act policies required high-ranking government personnel to file financial disclosure forms, but members of the public had to submit written requests to view the forms in which they agreed not to use the information for “any commercial or unlawful purpose.”

Many of his constituents have voiced concern about whether that protection will be included in the online database of financial information mandated in the STOCK Act.

“As you work to finalize the implementation of the STOCK Act,” Van Hollen wrote, “I urge you to include online safeguards that are functionally equivalent to -- and confer the same protection as -- the current written request process.”

The National Institutes of Health, whose workers’ union recently came out against the disclosure requirement provision of the STOCK Act, is located in Van Hollen’s suburban Washington district.

“It is nice to see the first olive out of the congressional bottle,” said Carol A. Bonosaro, president of the Senior Executives Association, a group that also has spoken out against the disclosure requirements, “and a public acknowledgment of the legitimate concerns federal employees have to these provisions in the STOCK Act.”

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