The Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act (STOCK Act), is a tool used to prevent our elected federal officials from enriching themselves and their families by virtue of their elected office. It's a great tool when it works and when it doesn't work, that's when government watchdog groups get involved. When groups like The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust filed a complaint against a Senator or Congressperson, that can spell the end of a political career and in some cases, even prison time. This is such a serious matter that one of the first things incoming new elected officials receive training on is how to operate within the confines of the STOCK Act and they are required to attend annual training afterward. They can't send an office staff member or intern to sit in on the training for them. The elected official has to attend.
So why then do so many of them try to circumvent the rules? In recent weeks, ethics violations have been filed against Senator Mark Kelly (D), Senator Rand Paul (R), Assistant Speaker of the House Katherine Clark (D), Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D), and Congresswomen Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D), Lori Trahan (D) and Kathy Castor (D) for all failing to report stock transactions greater than $15,000 within the 30 days allowed under the STOCK Act. To be clear, these watchdog groups aren't on a witchhunt. They don't wait until the 31st day and file a complaint with a gotcha. They wait patiently, sometimes for months or even years to catch these officials who try to slip their filings in under the cover of night.
Why is this so important to the rest of America? These disbursement reports are the only way we know that an elected official isn't profiteering from laws and regulations they pass in support of industry and big business. This rule-bending is but one of many that can plague a system of government where elected officials are bombarded by special interest groups to make laws that give preferential treatment to those groups over the majority. This used to be confined to redistricting. Now it appears politicians are attempting to do the same in the Senate by getting rid of the filibuster rule, and more importantly, stacking the United States Supreme Court by modifying the number of Justices that actively serve.
Another example is the crafty infrastructure bill that has little to do with infrastructure and everything to do with how our economy works. The infrastructure bill will move this country more to a socialist-based economy than we already are. But then, if you are well-read, I've told you nothing you don't already know. The public is screaming for solutions and some tech companies are doing everything they can to squelch and censor anyone opposing them. Can it be the general public is on the wrong side of history? The tech companies' position has evolved to an "our way or the highway" attitude.
Pay attention to what small groups of parents are doing to school boards concerning unpopular theories and policies. They are attending meetings, voicing their concerns, and demanding their elected officials do what the parents elected them to do. If the officials don't or worse, refuse, parents are recalling and removing them from office. Teachers are getting fired. In some communities, we have organized groups calling for the disbanding of the criminal justice system along with the police departments because the idea of law and order has become repugnant.
The majority of American citizens, regardless of party affiliation are against everything I've mentioned above. Part of our tolerance is because of our steadfast belief in law and order. Most Americans believe the current system works and we should allow it to work because it has in the past. But now that some folks are tinkering with the system and are on the verge of making some major changes to the system, what then? Do we accept those changes and go on with our lives?
Tell me, what have you done to preserve our democracy?
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