Insider Trading Ban in Congress Nabs First Scalp
Within one day, the House of Representatives voted 417-2 in favor of an insider trading ban and sought to investigate Rep. Spencer Bachus for violating the ban, Abby Ohlheiser reports in Slate.
The Office of Congressional Ethics was spurred into action by President Obama’s State of the Union Address, in which he exhorted Congress to police itself and, in doing so, redeem its image in the eyes of the public. Late last year, “60 Minutes” aired a segment on insider trades by members of Congress, which led to a public outcry.
A news associate at CBS News — which aired the story last November — declined to comment, out of an understandable concern that doing so would upstage Steve Kroft, who reported the piece.
Robert Pear of the New York Times pointed out that “the debate in both chambers [the Senate voted 96-3 just last week] showed how defensive and anxious lawmakers have become about the low esteem in which Congress is held. Its approval rating has sunk below 15 percent.”
In the Washington Post story cited by Ohlheiser, on Sept. 19, 2008, with the national economy in free fall, Rep. Bachus “traded ‘short’ options, betting on a broad decline in the nation’s financial markets, and collected a profit of $5,715.”
Another poll pegs their support at around nine percent, at the level of public trust in financial institutions. Which brings us back to Bachus, who gained notoriety in 2010 when he publicly said that the job of elected representatives is to “serve the banks.” Bachus (R-Ala.) is the chairman of the House Finance Committee.
According to data collected by the Center for Responsive Politics, in this cycle alone Rep. Bachus netted thousands of dollars from employees working for the Mortgage Bankers Association, JPMorgan Chase, Credit Union National Association, Credit Suisse, and an entity called J Hass Group.
Postings on Consumer Affairs appear to show almost uniformly negative customer experiences with J Hass, one of Bachus’s masters.
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