Update on the STOCK Act

Dear Foreign Service Colleagues,

As you know AFSA is working hard, in collaboration with our coalition partners, to get a legislative fix to eliminate the requirement for Internet posting of financial disclosure forms in a searchable downloadable database.

Marking a major advance in our efforts to change the STOCK Act provisions that expose the members of our Service to personal attacks and increase security risks, on September 13 the U.S. District Court in Maryland issued a preliminary injunction enjoining the government, until October 31, 2012, from implementing Section 11 of the Act (the Internet filing provision of the Act). In granting the motion, the Court found the plaintiffs were likely to succeed on the merits; the plaintiffs were likely to suffer irreparable harm; the equities tipped in the plaintiffs’ favor; and the granting of the injunctive was in the public interest. The announcement is summarized below:

“Judge Alexander Williams of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland issued a preliminary injunction prohibiting the government ‘from implementing Section 11 of the STOCK Act to make financial disclosure forms of covered Executive Branch employees or the information contained in them available on the websites of any agency of the United States or otherwise available on the Internet’ and from ‘requiring Executive Branch employees to submit financial disclosure information so long as such information is subject to Internet publication by federal agencies under the STOCK Act.’"

We are moving ahead on the legal front with an ACLU law suit for a permanent ruling on the provision. This week we also expect bipartisan legislation to be proposed in the House and the Senate to amend the act.

The Internet provisions of the STOCK Act, which is designed to end insider trading in Congress, would require that the financial information filings of Senior Executive branch federal employees be published on a searchable, downloadable, Internet accessible database for all the world to see, including foreign intelligent agencies, terrorists, criminals and enemies of the United States. We believe this creates enormous personal, national security and operational security risks for our Service and for the senior employees of the government.

We will continue to keep you updated on our efforts to amend the STOCK Act on your behalf, the full documents can be found at www.afsa.org/stockact.

Susan R. Johnson
AFSA President