Well, this is certainly interesting. Just as the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) was set to consider forcing companies to account for stock options as an expense, 40 members of Congress are stepping forward in an attempt to quash the idea.
The lawmakers are concentrated in and around the technology-rich districts of California's Silicon Valley -- home of such firms as Intel
Now, we're not going to suggest that the representatives are being unduly influenced by contributions from companies opposing the change. There are, after all, reasonable arguments for both sides (see Dueling Fools: Should Stock Options Be Expensed?).
But others, such as former SEC chief accountant Lynn Turner, are not being so kind. "This is the clearest indication that for certain members of Congress," he told USA Today, "their votes are for sale every day of the year.'' Ouch.
The 40 lawmakers know they're stepping into a tough brawl. They are facing pressure from their colleagues in the Senate, for instance. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Carl Levin (D-Mich.) have sponsored a letter urging the FASB to forge ahead and require the expensing of options.
In addition, some influential companies that once opposed the idea are now reversing course. Accounting firm Ernst & Young, stung by the disclosure it helped set up options-related tax shelters for Sprint
The board will take up the issue during a closely watched meeting next month.