Plunkitt would call it “Honest Graft”…

Plunkitt would call it “Honest Graft”…

…but I would still call it disgusting.  This is the story that inspired the DailyDisgust…belatedly posted, because it turns out that being the father of an infant makes one fairly busy:

Congress: Trading Stock on Inside Information? from CBS 60 Minutes

One example from the story:

“In mid September 2008 with the Dow Jones Industrial average still above ten thousand, Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke were holding closed door briefings with congressional leaders, and privately warning them that a global financial meltdown could occur within a few days. One of those attending was Alabama Representative Spencer Bachus, then the ranking Republican member on the House Financial Services Committee and now its chairman.

While Congressman Bachus was publicly trying to keep the economy from cratering, he was privately betting that it would, buying option funds that would go up in value if the market went down. He would make a variety of trades and profited at a time when most Americans were losing their shirts.”

While a decent respect for decency would of course call for any elected official to recuse themselves from votes in which their investments are concerned and vice versa, apparently there is no legal reguirement for members of Congress to do so.

Some levity is brought to the issue by the Wall Street Journal which points out that “Analysis Shows That Some Members of Congress Should Elect Not to Trade”:

Lawmakers Lose in Markets from The Wall Street Journal

Quoting from Gawker quoting from the paywall restricted WSJ article:

“Sen. Tom Coburn (R., Okla.) made more than 200 trades in stocks and bonds in 2010, and says he has lost money trading in each of the seven years he has been in Congress.

Rep. Luis Gutierrez, an Illinois Democrat, made dozens of trades in stocks and mutual funds, including two instances in which he bought and sold a fund in the same day, even though the share price of mutual funds doesn’t fluctuate within the same day.”

Tom Coburn, eh?  I guess it couldn’t happen to a nicer fella…


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