Duncan pushes regulation of political intelligence industry

A Tennessee Republican and a New York Democrat have teamed up on a proposal to regulate the little-known political intelligence industry, which mines Capitol Hill for financial information that can be sold to Wall Street investors.

Further from The Tennessean:

Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., and Rep. John Duncan, R-Tenn., say political intelligence gathering should be subject to the same public disclosure rules that apply to lobbyists.

“There is this whole other group in the shadows profiting off of information not available to everybody else,” Slaughter said Thursday.

This is the third time Slaughter has introduced legislation to require political intelligence firms to register with Congress, a process that also would require them to identify their clients and the issues they’re interested in. She said congressional staffers and federal agency employees may not always know when they’re talking to someone who intends to extract information to benefit a hedge fund, for example.

Slaughter said the political intelligence industry is generating huge profits with no accountability.

“If it’s worth $400 million a year, it needs some oversight,” she said.

Duncan called the legislation “a common-sense proposal to finally end the ability of political intelligence operatives to work behind closed doors and profit from information that’s available only to the well connected in Washington.”

The STOCK ACT, passed by Congress in 2012, requires members of Congress to disclose their personal investment decisions more frequently and bars them from engaging in insider trading. But a provision regulating the political intelligence industry was stripped out before the final vote, and subsequent efforts to resurrect the idea have stalled.