Political Intelligence

Political intelligence is understanding what is happening in Washington –  it is the who, what, why, where and when of Washington.  Almost all Washington insiders rely on their own political intelligence networks to navigate and interpret the landscape of politics and policy.  Political intelligence is essential to successfully operating in Washington as it allows individuals and organizations to take the everyday actions that occur and translate them into how it affects their constituencies.  Using political intelligence opens the door to understanding what has happened and what will happen.

Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act

The STOCK Act explicitly prohibits Members of Congress and employees of Congress from using nonpublic information derived from their official positions for personal benefit, and for other purposes.  An amendment added to the bill, includes executive branch employees in this prohibition. The bill prohibits  trading of stocks and other securities on the basis of confidential or nonpublic information. Additionally, the bill requires prompt financial reporting by Members and employees of Congress of any equity transactions.  While the STOCK Act was introduced in the past two congresses, a recent 60 minutes story and a mention by the President in his State of the Union address, brought the issue to the national spotlight and and spurred its relatively quick passage by Congress’s two chambers.

The Grassley Amendment

With the introduction of the STOCK Act, the phrase “political intelligence” gained national prominence for its inclusion in an amendment offered by Senator Grassley.  The amendment  defines political intelligence as providing information gathered about the government to investors who then trade stock on that information.  The amendment adjusts the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 to apply to political intelligence consultants.  Specifically, it requires political intelligence consultants register as political consultants.

Research by Integrity Research Associates, a firm that tracks the investment research industry, indicates  that the political intelligence industry has become a roughly $100-million a year business in the US and a $400-million a year business globally.  According to Grassley, requiring political intelligence providers to register under the LDA will create the same level of transparency required for lobbyists.  The Grassley amendment passed by a 60-39 vote in the Senate but was left out of the House version of the STOCK Act.  The House version of the STOCK Act requires the government to study and report on the role of political intelligence in the financial markets within 12 months.

Covington & Burlington provides intelligence on the Political Intelligence provisions in the STOCK Act

What’s Happening Now on the STOCK Act

Update: The STOCK Act was signed into law by the President on April 4, 2012.

First Street Research Group Analyst, Alex Bronstein-Moffly Discusses the STOCK Act on The Daily Wrap from Wall Street Journal with Michael Castner.  Listen here.

The House and Senate both passed different versions of the STOCK Act, see ProPublica’s comparison, with the Senate version containing the political intelligence amendment and the House version omitting it.  Following a long period of evaluation, the Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid decided to put the House version of the STOCK Act up for a vote, omitting the political intelligence provision.  The House version of the STOCK Act passed the Senate on 96-3 vote, Senator Grassley the author of the political intelligence provision was one of the three Senator’s that voted against the bill.

Political Intelligence Industry Players

Political Intelligence In the News

Wall Street Journal Series on Political Intelligence Industry. Note: This series was written before STOCK Act Amendment

First Street Research Group on Political Intelligence

Other interesting stories about Political Intelligence:

Social Resources


  1. […] by members of Congress is headed to the Oval Office, without the provision calling for reporting of political intelligence […]

  2. […] and others had pushed, unsuccessfully, for a provision requiring registration and reporting of political intelligence […]

  3. […] of the bill tightened regulations on that industry, but the GOP-led House passed a bill without the political intelligence provisions, which many Republicans protested were unduly burdensome. Rather than negotiate with the […]

  4. […] is Political Intelligence? Understand the legislation, the people and the organizations surrounding the latest buzzword in […]

  5. […] is Political Intelligence? Understand the legislation, the people and the organizations surrounding the latest buzzword in […]

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