WASHINGTON -- President Obama today signed into law a congressional insider trading bill championed by Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts, a Republican, and hailed the legislation as an example of bipartisanship in the nation’s capital.
Brown seemed to relish the moment, smiling broadly as the president signed the bill, which the Bay State senator considers a signature accomplishment.
The measure bans members of Congress, their staff, and most other federal workers from financially profiting from nonpublic information.
Brown is expected to return to the White House on Thursday for another signing, this one of a bill that eases rules on raising capital for entrepreneurs and that he helped include into broader jobs legislation backed by the president.
“Our work isn’t done,” the president said today of the STOCK Act on insider trading. “There’s obviously more that we can do to close the deficit of trust and limit the corrosive influence of money in politics,” he said, echoing elements of his State of the Union Address in January, when he urged Congress to pass the bill.
Obama said elected officials should not own stocks in industries they can affect legislatively. Stricter rules on lobbyists are also needed, he said, to limit the influence of money in the conduct of public business.
The STOCK Act was first proposed more than five years ago in the House, but languished until Brown and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat from New York, revived the effort. Brown proposed his bill two days after the CBS news magazine “60 Minutes” aired a report that suggested members of Congress padded their stock portfolios based on insider information.
Gillibrand, who was in New York for a women’s mentoring event, was not among those in attendance at today’s ceremony. Joining Brown for the event were seven other members of Congress, including three other Republicans, and representatives from good-government advocacy groups.
Brown and Obama shook hands and exchanged pleasantries after the signing. Brown said he sought an invitation from the president for a game of basketball.
Today’s appearance at the White House could help Brown underscore the reputation he is trying to build as a moderate, which he hopes will increase his reelection chances against his presumptive Democratic opponent, Elizabeth Warren.
An Obama campaign official, however, made it clear this afternoon that the president backs Warren in what is expected to be one of the country’s most watched Senate races.
“President Obama believes Elizabeth Warren not only has the courage and commitment to do what’s right for middle class families, but has the consistent record to back it up,” said deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter, a Massachusetts native. “The president firmly supports her in the Massachusetts Senate race.”
Democrats were hoping to tie Brown more closely to the GOP’s leading contender for the White House, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.
Bay State Democrats released a video today that depicted Brown and Romney being chummy.
The new web video, dubbed by Democrats “Scott Brown + Mitt Romney = BFF,” features the two men expressing respect for one another. “There’s no one I would trust more than Mitt Romney,” Brown says in a clip.
“Let’s be clear,” said Massachusetts Democratic Party Chair John Walsh. “Scott Brown wants Mitt Romney to be president and the Republicans to take control of the Senate so they can push the Republican agenda of rolling back Wall Street reform, overturning health care reform and increasing tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires. The last thing President Obama wants is to see Scott Brown reelected.”
Bobby Caina Calvan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on twitter @GlobeCalvan.