Congressmen profited from inside information in the collapse?
posted at 1:35 pm on June 29, 2009 by Ed Morrissey
The Culture of Corruption continues! The Cleveland Plain Dealer conducted a review of disclosure statements from members of the House Financial Services Committee, and guess who made a killing on bank stocks while Congress debated bailing out the financial sector?
As financial markets tumbled and the government worked to stave off panic by pumping billions of dollars into banks last fall, several members of Congress who oversee the banking industry were grabbing up or dumping bank stocks.
Anticipating bargains or profits or just trying to unload before the bottom fell out, these members of the House Financial Services Committee or brokers on their behalf were buying and selling stocks including Bank of America and Citigroup — some of the very corporations their committee would later rap for greed, a Plain Dealer examination of congressional stock market transactions shows.
The Gordon Gekko Club in the House includes both Republicans and Democrats — although you may not know that from the CPD report. Check out how they mention Ohio’s Charlie Wilson, a Democrat, as compared to their reporting on a Republican from the same committee:
Financial disclosure records show that some of these Financial Services Committee members, including Ohio Rep. Charlie Wilson, made bank stock trades on the same day the banks were getting a government bailout from a program Congress approved. …
For example, Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, a Florida Republican, bought Citigroup stock valued between $1,001 and $15,000 on Oct. 2, the day before the House passed the financial rescue bill and President George W. Bush signed it into law, records show. She opposed the bill.
Name That Party! It takes four more paragraphs for the CPD to remind readers that Wilson is a Democrat. They improve later as they mention the other characters in this little inside-information ring:
- Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY)
- Jackie Speier (D-CA)
- Shelly Moore Capito (R-WV)
- Judith Biggert (R-IL)
Of the five women, at least two of them — Capito and Speier — blame their spouses for their transactions. But where did the spouses get their information?
The people who serve on this committee and its analog in the Senate should have their portfolios in blind trusts. The US prosecuted inside-information traders in the 1980s and 1990s for similar transgressions, and the people trusted with power should have much more accountability for their actions. We didn’t elect them to position themselves to profit while the rest of us lost big chunks of our retirement funds. We can’t expect the House to clean its own house on this matter, but we can point out that Nancy Pelosi promised to end the “culture of corruption” — and instead it looks as though it has positively flourished under her leadership. (via TMV)