Now an awful lot of very valuable information can pass your eyes when you sit in Congress. You might note, say, that a previously discredited computer installation system has now got enough votes for funding. The newspapers are yet to be informed. What do you do? Well, increasingly it seems, you phone your broker and he buys some shares in the firm manufacturing the system and a nice quick profit comes your way.
If you or I did such a thing in our normal dealings, especially if you were working for the government, we would be charged with Insider Trading and probably end up with being arrested and jailed.
But not if you are a Senator. Nor even if the Senator is moved to let his friends who fund his campaign in on the know, or to tip off another Representative he might want to butter up. Oh no, nothing wrong here, nothing to see folks, just move along.
There are laws that govern this insider trading, but surprisingly they do not cover Congress. Laws could of course, it’s just that no one in Congress wants to introduce them. And if you look back to yesterday’s post you can see why. It’s very, very profitable.
In October 2010 the Wall Street Journal reported that in the previous two years 72 congressional aides from both parties made trades in companies that their bosses were overseeing. Those noted included Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Nothing to do with any insider information just good luck. As if!
Now, just in time for my Christmas, comes an absolute beaut of a book laying this all down in elegant readable style. Peter Schweizer is a 47 year old research fellow at the Hoover Institute who was examining trades being made at the time Medicare was being overhauled. Schweizer spotted what others either never spotted or kept schtum.
And who did Schweizer think these members might have been? Well, he clearly has Senator Kerry firmly in his sights. He notes Kerry’s trust made a capital gain of between $500,000 and a couple of million. Not that it was him of course but his trustees who have an impeccable sense of timing. He has written it all up as “Throw them all out”.
Now Schweizer has form. He is a conservative and has been a script writer for Sarah Palin. He has authored books on Reagan and the Bush family. He does not like liberals. But the book is refreshingly unpartisan. Schweizer seems to have joined those in American politics, such as Occupy and the Tea Party, who have had enough with the lot of them seeing each party as corrupt and useless as the other. The title sums up the work.
He shows that during the health care debate Boehner the House Minority leader invested “tens of thousands” in health insurance companies, which of course all made good. All through a friend you understand.
Rep Spencer Bachus of Alabama is also featured in the book, and really catches his wrath for trading in 2008 after having been given a confidential briefing by both the Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke.
And you must read the stuff about Nancy Pelosi whose husband Paul made interesting trades in the Spring of 2008.
And he claims only to have scratched at the crust of this mire of corruption.
Copyright David Macadam 2011