Federal Scientists File Lawsuit

Opponents of a new law requiring government researchers to publicly disclose personal financial information claim it is an invasion of privacy.

By | August 7, 2012

Flickr, Images_of_Money

Around 60 federally employed researchers have joined a lawsuit against a recently enacted law that requires high-level government employees to publicly disclose details of their financial assets and non-federal incomes. Known as the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act, which was enacted in April, the law aims to deter insider trading among the government’s top ranks. However, researchers from the National Institutes of Health and NASA who are participating in the lawsuit worry the law constitutes an invasion of privacy and will drive talent away from government jobs.

“I am already aware of individuals that have resigned positions or refused to apply for positions that include a Stock Act disclosure obligation,” wrote Joshua Zimmerberg, a biophysicist and lab chief at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. “This directly harms the United States’ unimpaired ability to conduct research into critical areas not covered by commercial interests.”

Per the STOCK Act, the financial information was slated to be posted online starting August 31. But in light of the lawsuit, Congress agreed to delay the date for posting the public disclosure forms by 30 days last week, ScienceInsider reported.


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Avatar of: Ken Pimple

Ken Pimple

Posts: 10

August 7, 2012

I wish I made enough money to make me queasy about disclosing my income.

Avatar of: Y2KJillian


Posts: 5

August 7, 2012

Why should scientists "have" to reveal their financial dealings when a supposed candidate for President seems to think he doesn't "have" to?  And, apparently, he IS wealthy enough to be queasy about disclosure.  Makes me think.

Avatar of: kozowh


Posts: 1

August 8, 2012

Scientists who work for regulatory agencies have been required to provide financial disclosure for decades to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.  For example, I had to sell my 5 shares of Xerox because they made medical imaging equipment and I worked for FDA.  Sure, it's an invasion of privacy but many things are; when did you last tell your state Department of Motor Vehicles how much you weighed?

Avatar of: LouiseM


Posts: 6

August 16, 2012

In other words, these are the very scientists who are willing for the public to believe that they had embarrassing or incriminating holdings or trades in their portfolios.

What research do these 60 do? What impact would it have on their reputations, their studies, their findings, and the treatments that have proceeded, if these men and women profited on the foreknowledge, or were taking payoffs and tips from the industry they were supposed to be regulating?

Every grant agency that has given them money could sure them. Every person who received a form of treatment based on that scientist's findings could sue them. The universities and institutes with which they are affiliated could be liable. As in the tax returns of Presidential candidates, the refusal to release the tax returns may be more about the legal but unsavory truth than a moral standing on privacy.

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