The best I can figure is that when the exposure of outrageous corruption will devastate power politicians in both parties, neither party, nor their partisan herds, nor their lackey journalist allies, see it as advantageous to look under that rock. Does anyone have a better theory? Because the fact that almost all Senators and members of Congress, and often their staffs, enrich themselves using their knowledge of what laws are about to be passed, and the fact not only is nothing being done about it, but that most of the public doesn’t even know about it and no one is working very hard to tell them, is maddening.
The latest chapter is typical of the hypocrisy and dishonesty in this long-running ethics fiasco.
In 2012, Congress passed the STOCK Act, a bill that was supposed to stop insider trading for lawmakers and their staffs. Of course, the laws making insider trading illegal should have already stopped the practice, and the ethics rules prohibited it as well with such phrases as “conflicts of interest” and “appearance of impropriety.” Lawmakers aren’t supposed to break laws, you see. No, really. They’re not!
There had been some embarrassing incidents in the past bringing the practice into the spotlight, like in 2005, when Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tn) coincidentally dumped his substantial holdings in HCA, the hospital giant, just a month before its stock fell 9%. ( Insider tips are so much cheaper and tougher to trace than outright bribes, or even contributions to your family charitable foundation.) Then, before the Republicans took over the House, the dirty little secret about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s insider trading was flagged in a cringeworthy moment by CBS’s Steve Kroft:
In 2008, credit card giant Visa held among the most lucrative IPO’s of all time. Nancy Pelosi and her husband were granted early access as “special customers,” buying shares at the opening price, $44. They turned a 50 percent profit in just two days. Starting on March 18, the Pelosis made the first of three Visa stock buys, estimated at at least $1 million and as much as $5 million. This occurred just two weeks after legislation had been introduced in the House that would have allowed merchants to negotiate lower interchange fees with credit card companies.Visa opposed it. Pelosi blocked action on interchange fees for more than two years, during which the value of her Visa stock jumped more than 200 percent even though the stock market as a whole dropped 15 percent.
As Sen. John Kerry worked on passing the Affordable Care Act in 2009, he and his wife began buying stock in Teva Pharmaceuticals, purchasing nearly $750,000 in November alone. The more likely it looked that Obamacare would pass, the higher Yeva’s stock went; after all, the law, whatever else it might do, was sure to increase the demand for prescription drugs. As soon as Obamacare became law, the Kerrys realized tens of thousands of dollars in capital gains while holding on to more than $1 million in Teva shares.
The Republicans, their ranks swelled in 2012 by some new members of Congress who were not thoroughly corrupt yet, seized on these incidents to pass STOCK . “We all know that Washington is broken and today members of both parties took a big step forward to fix it,” said Rep. Bill Johnson, (R-Ohio), upon passage of the law.
Muckraking journalist Glenn Greenwald just dug up a brief missed —or perhaps ignored—by the mainstream media that was filed last summer after the Securities and Exchange Commission announced its first major investigation of political insider trading. Kerry Kircher, the House General Counsel by Speaker John Boehner, argued in that brief that any SEC investigation of congressional insider trading was unconstitutional, because lawmakers and their staffs are protected from such inquiries by the Separation of Powers provision of the Constitution.
In other words, Congress passed a law against their own insider trading, but it can’t be enforced.
Let me be clear: insider trading as well as stock buys based on anticipated legislation that they control is far more unethical when done by members of Congress than ordinary insider trading.It warps our laws and policies, as elected officials vote to enrich their business cronies and themselves at the same time. Any member of Congress who engages in this practice—and the data suggests that many do—should be not only thrown out of office, but into prison.
Officials of both parties are guilty. The only thing worse about Democrats is that they have the gall to demagogue the issue of income inequality while exploiting their position for illicit wealth. At least the Republican have, if not shame, better taste.
Oh, I almost forgot! Do you know who wrote the definitive expose on this scandal, exposing Republicans and Democrats alike?
Why, Peter Schweizer, the author of “Clinton Cash,” who Democrats are now claiming is a GOP hit man with an agenda! By the evidence of his previous book, “Throw them all out: HOW POLITICIANS AND THEIR FRIENDS GET RICH OFF INSIDER STOCK TIPS, LAND DEALS, AND CRONYISM THAT WOULD SEND THE REST OF US TO PRISON,” I’ve concluded that his “agenda” is the same as mine.
We both want to stop the U.S. from being led by sleazy, dishonest hypocrites.