Via c4p, Newsweek/Daily Beast is featuring Peter Schweizer’s expose of rampant Congressional Insider Trading and Crony Capitalism. All perfectly legal (for them, they make the rules, after all) and all highly unethical.
In the Spring of 2010, a bespectacled, middle-aged policy wonk named Peter Schweizer fired up his laptop and began a months-long odyssey into a forbidding maze of public databases, hunting for the financial secrets of Washington’s most powerful politicians. Schweizer had been struck by the fact that members of Congress are free to buy and sell stocks in companies whose fate can be profoundly influenced, or even determined, by Washington policy, and he wondered, do these ultimate insiders act on what they know? Yes, Schweizer found, they certainly seem to. Schweizer’s research revealed that some of Congress’s most prominent members are in a position to routinely engage in what amounts to a legal form of insider trading, profiting from investment activity that, he says, “would send the rest of us to prison.”
While examining trades made around the time of the 2003 Medicare overhaul, Schweizer experienced what he calls his “Holy crap!” moment. The legislation, which created a new prescription-drug entitlement, promised to be a huge boon to the pharmaceutical industry—and to savvy investors in the Capitol. Among those with special insight on the issue was Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, chairman of the health subcommittee of the Senate’s powerful Finance Committee. Kerry is one of the wealthiest members of the Senate and heavily invested in the stock market. As the final version of the drug program neared approval—one that didn’t include limits on the price of drugs—brokers for Kerry and his wife were busy trading in Big Pharma. Schweizer found that they completed 111 stock transactions of pharmaceutical companies in 2003, 103 of which were buys.
“They were all great picks,” Schweizer notes. The Kerrys’ capital gains on the transactions were at least $500,000, and as high as $2 million (such information is necessarily imprecise, as the disclosure rules allow members to report their gains in wide ranges). It was instructive to Schweizer that Kerry didn’t try to shape legislation to benefit his portfolio; the apparent key to success was the shaping of trades that anticipated the effect of government policy.
Daily Beast also has a gallery of mug shots highlighting 8 of our busiest Get Rich Congress members and, wait, there’s more! also an article on Obama’s Lucky Friends who just happen to get government subsidies, the fact that they are bundlers having nothing to do with it.
Back to the original article, I am stunned to see a mainstream news actually say this out loud:
What Schweizer says he does hope is that others will take up his mission—requiring only time, online access, and a willingness to wade through public databases—and eventually crowd-source reform. A Throw Them All Out campaign is an interesting prospect—a movement that both Sarah Palin and Michael Moore could embrace. Schweizer’s motivation and his message could well be a credo that transcends partisan conflict.
We can’t just change the uniforms, we have to change the whole team. Throw them all out.