"A wise and frugal government which shall restrain men
from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government."
(Thomas Jefferson)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Lieberman, Brown Launch Probe Into Congressional Insider Trading

Today, the Early Show on CBS featured Senator Scott Brown’s Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act of 2011 [S. 1871]. The bill would prohibit “insider trading” in Congress.

This video from CBS This Morning also details how Cong Baird (D-WA), who is now retired, tried to get this bill through the House since 2004 but could only get six co-sponsors.  The best news is that Senator Brown's bill will be heard by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs which Senator Lieberman chairs.  Senator Lieberman not only has thrown his support to this bill, but plans to have his Committee investigate insider trading going on in Congress.  We found out from Senator Brown that the only people in the government with no laws or rules on insider trading are members of Congress and the Supreme Court (my highlight below):
Congress and the Supreme Court are the only two out of 975 federal entities that have no rules or laws prohibiting them from trading securities based on nonpublic information. According to a study by economist Alan J. Ziobrowski, between 1993 and 1998, the common stock investment portfolios of U.S. senators beat the market by 12% a year, on average. In sharp contrast, the common stock investment portfolios of U.S. households as a whole underperformed the market on average by 1.4% a year during the relevant period. And corporate insiders investing in their own company‘s stock only beat the market by about 6% a year on average during that period.
Members of Congress say they didn't want to be bothered by more cumbersome regulations.  That's just too bad as some members have zero ethics it seems.  Most Americans don't want to be bothered by IRS regulations either when they do taxes but have no choice.  Hard to feel sorry for members of Congress even a little that they might have to report more often when they don't think anything of putting more regulations on American business owners, states, local entities, and the American people.

This is perfect timing as Governor Perry presented his plan on Uproot and Overhaul Washington on Wednesday which included Congressional Insider Trading:
Criminalize Insider Trading by Members of Congress: 
Just as private individuals are prohibited from making stock or bond trades based on inside information, members of Congress should be banned from trading on information about how congressional laws may impact financial markets. 
A recent investigative report by 60 Minutes found that “Members of Congress and their aides have regular access to powerful political intelligence, and many have made well-timed stock market trades in the very industries they regulate.”15 Convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff told CNBC that as many as a dozen members of Congress traded on inside information.16 One academic study found that the portfolios of lawmakers, most of whom are not professional investors or financial experts, outperformed the overall stock market by more than 6% a year. 
The Stock Act, which would prohibit Members of Congress and federal employees from profiting from nonpublic information they obtain via their official positions, has been introduced in every Congress since 2004. The act has yet to receive any consideration on either the House or Senate floor. 
A lawmaker who plans to bailout a publicly traded corporation should not be allowed to use his or her inside information to purchase or short securities that will be directly affected by congressional action. If private individuals can be jailed or fined for trading on insider information, then lawmakers and their staff should be required to live under the same laws when it comes to legislative or regulatory inside information.
Until I read Governor Perry's plan, I did not realize that the Stock Act had been introduced every year since 2004 and never passed.  Why not?  Cong Brian Baird (D-WA) couldn't get more than six sponsors at any one time as members of Congress didn't want to be bothered by cumbersome rules.  What is the difference between insider trading on Wall Street and insider trading from within the halls of Congress?  When you have information that is not public about a company, that should never be used to make money.  No wonder some members of Congress get richer after they are elected.  Would be nice to know when we elect members of Congress they are going to have ethics not to do this but the old saying 'power and money' corrupts may be just what we are seeing.

I am with Governor Perry in asking why members of Congress and their staffs are not be subject to the same laws as everyone else?  Why are Congress and the Supreme Court exempt?  Why was leadership not willing to even hear this bill in the past?  That should change now after reading how much more money members of Congress and their aides make off of stock trades then the average trader:
Georgia State University Professor Alan Ziobrowski found that senators’ stock portfolios beat the market by 12 percent annually, while those of House members were 6 percent higher. Ziobrowski called such returns abnormally high. 
Any member of Congress or their aides who are or have been involved with insider trading needs to resign.  The American people deserve no less.  This gives Congress more of a black eye then they already have.

CBS is reporting in the video above that the House version now has 18 co-sponsors which has morphed into 65 co-sponsors as of a short time ago.  Senator Brown has three co-sponsors so far:  Sen Blunt, Roy [MO] - 11/17/2011, Sen Heller, Dean [NV] - 11/17/2011, Sen Rubio, Marco [FL] - 11/15/2011 according to the Senate record on Senate Bill 1871.  This bill has now been heard twice and referred to Senator Lieberman's Committee for further action.   We are looking forward to these hearings.

In the House, the bill was introduced by Rep. Timothy Walz [D-MN] and has grown from 4 original co-sponsors to 65.  Most of the co-sponsors are Democrats except for Charles Bass [R-NH2]Steven Chabot [R-OH1]Jaime Herrera Beutler [R-WA3]Walter Jones [R-NC3]Frank LoBiondo [R-NJ2]Ted Poe [R-TX2]Dennis Rehberg [R-MTDennis Ross [R-FL12]Robert Schilling [R-IL17]Allen West [R-FL22].  For a list of Democrat sponsors click here.  The House version has also been assigned to the Judiciary Committee for hearings.

We will continue to track both the House and Senate bills as they progress through the Congress.  We anticipate new laws and rules will be put in place this time with the spotlight now shining brightly on insider trading in Congress.  We expect little to happen before the second session of Congress which begins in January, but at least both bills have now made it to Committee when in the past, the Baird bills never made it past the first reading so it is a start in the right direction.  Now something is finally being done with Cong Baird's bill he has been trying to pass since 2004 as his bill is seeing the light of day.

What else this is shining the light on is that these bills are being supported in a bi-partisan manner.  This is an example what we send our members of Congress by putting their constituents first not a political party.  In this case, both sides of the aisles have been involved in the insider trading, and now both sides are coming together to fix the broken system.  We understand there is a ideological divide between liberals and conservatives when it comes to the budget which makes sense to fight light cats and dogs to get their way.  What we have not understood is on these types of bills why both sides have not been able to come together as they seem more worried about who gets the credit then getting something done.

Over the years Senator Lieberman has gained respect of many Americans -- don't always agree with him ideologically but I join a lot of others who have tremendous respect for the man.  Now we learn he is not only hearing the bill but is launching an investigation into insider trading in Congress.  Once again as he has done over the years, Senator Lieberman throws politics out the window to work for the American people.
Lieberman, Brown Launch Probe Into Congressional Insider Trading
Thursday, 17 Nov 2011 05:17 PM
By Martin Gould

Members of Congress repeatedly blocked moves to enforce insider trading laws on themselves because they don’t want to be bothered by cumbersome rules, says retired House member Brian Baird, whose unsung efforts to stop the trading are finally getting respect. 
“What was troubling to me was not that they thought it wasn’t wrong, but they thought it was too inconvenient,” Baird told Newsmax in an exclusive interview. Baird welcomed moves finally to look at the issue that he pushed throughout his six terms in Congress, which ended with his retirement in 2010. 
“Not only is this good policy, it’s good politics,” said Baird from his home in Edmonds, Wash. “People out there think the rules should apply to Congress too. They want it to be fair and just and consistent.” 
Baird’s STOCK (Stop Trading On Congressional Knowledge) Act failed to gain traction on Capitol Hill despite four attempts to introduce it. He never got more than six colleagues to sign on as co-sponsors and the bill went nowhere.

But now, leading Republicans like Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts, and Sen. Joe Lieberman, the Connecticut Independent, are throwing their weight behind the anti-insider trading fervor. 
Brown filed a bill to prohibit insider trading in Congress, and a key Senate committee has agreed to hold a public hearing on the measure. 
The Massachusetts Republican’s bill would bar members or employees of Congress and the executive branch from using nonpublic information obtained through their public service for the purpose of investing for personal financial gain. 
Lieberman, chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, announced Wednesday that the committee would hold a hearing to examine how insider trading laws apply to Congress.“Insider trading by members of Congress — if it occurs — is a serious breach of the public trust,” said Lieberman.

“No one in Congress should be enriching themselves based on information to which the general public has no access,” said Lieberman. “Our hearing will set the record straight about how existing laws and ethics rules apply to Congress and whether they are sufficient to prevent unethical market trading.”

In the House, Reps. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., and Tim Walz, D-Minn., who had already re-introduced the measure in March, issued a statement urging the bill to be taken up. 
The insider trading probe gained steam with the publication of a new book, “Throw Them All Out,” by conservative author Peter Schweizer, a research fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution and one-time aide to Sarah Palin, who details alleged abuses by politicians on both sides of the House and Senate.

The book was heavily featured on Sunday’s "60 Minutes" with reporter Steve Kroft going after leaders of the two parties in the House on camera. Both Speaker John Boehner and former Speaker Nancy Pelosi denied they had done anything wrong. 
For example, following a top secret briefing about the impending financial collapse in 2008, Congressman Spencer Bachus. R-AL, bought options that would rise as the market collapsed. 
That's exactly what it did. 
Boehner, during the healthcare debate in 2009, allegedly loaded up on health insurance stocks just before the “public option” was removed from the Federal healthcare reform legislation. 
Pelosi, D-Calif., was granted access to the Visa IPO back in 2008 while the House was considering credit card legislation that would hurt the credit card industry. Her initial $220,000 investment went up $100,000 in two days. 
When asked about insider trading allegations at a press conference earlier this month, Boehner said, "I have not made any decisions on day-to-day trading activities of my account and haven’t for years. I do not do it, haven’t done it and wouldn’t do it.” 
The watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington blasted the content of the “60 Minutes” special, arguing that it “did a disservice” to Pelosi and Boehner and “undermined the case” for the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act, which was introduced in 2006. 
Baird also appeared on the show, telling Kroft, “One line in a bill in Congress can be worth millions and millions of dollars.
"There was one night when we had a late, late night caucus and you could kind of tell how a vote was going to go the next day,” he added. “I literally walked home and I thought, ‘Man, if you ... went online and made some significant trades, you could make a lot of money on this.’”
Baird a Washington State Democrat who is now vice president for government affairs with shipbuilders Vigor Industrial, welcomed the announcement.

“It is a bipartisan problem and there should be a bipartisan solution,” he told Newsmax. “There are good people on both sides and people who stretch the limits on both sides, so it shouldn’t be a political issue.

“Even if it is my best friend and closest colleague who is using inside information to trade he should be punished.” 
Baird said that whenever he tried to push his Bill he would be stonewalled. “There is no question whatsoever that members of Congress hold and trade stocks relevant to their committees,” he said. “That should be banned. 
“Insisting on blind trusts would be the easiest way of dealing with it, but that would not solve the problem unless you ban giving information to others. For instance it is not difficult to see that it is wrong to give information to a donor that they can make money off.” 
But Congress has for years exempted itself from the very rules that have put people like domestic goddess Martha Stewart and more recently hedge fund manager Raj Rajaratnan behind bars. 
“It is not explicitly stated in Congress’ ethics code,” said Baird. “And we exempted ourselves from reporting requirements that apply to hedge fund managers and corporate CEOs. They have to report within 48 hours if they make a significant trade. We have to report once a year, retroactively. In fact if you make a trade in January, it doesn’t have to be reported until the following May.” 
Baird said that at one point he changed his bill to allow for reporting to be delayed for 90 days in a bid to get more members to back him. But still they would not. “Really it should be 48 hours,” he said. 
He quoted one example of a discussion about asbestos regulations among members that was not know to the wider public. “There are times that our discussions are non-public,” he explained.
But it leaked out from a leading senator’s office and the next day trading in companies involved in the asbestos industry doubled. “If that had happened in the corporate world the SEC would have swarmed all over it,” he said. 
Georgia State University Professor Alan Ziobrowski found that senators’ stock portfolios beat the market by 12 percent annually, while those of House members were 6 percent higher. Ziobrowski called such returns abnormally high. 
Even if his STOCK Act is not passed, Baird is happy that new light has been shed on the problem. “It will have a salutary effect,” he said. “Anyone who is thinking of making a trade proximate to their work wlll think twice and anyone who has made a trade in the past should be worried. 
“Also it will open up a whole new realm for opposition researchers,” he predicted. “They should start looking into the trading records and committee assignments of incumbents.”

Read more on Newsmax.com: Lieberman, Brown Launch Probe Into Congressional Insider Trading

1 comment:

Stock Price said...

there is a general rule of buying using which you can buy and make profit of yours. ...........
Buy Sell Pressure