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Members of U.S. House Financial Services Committee Trading Stocks

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The "appearance of a problem" or a problem? 

Here’s the definition of insider trading from wikipedia

"Insider trading is the trading of a corporation’s stock or other securities… by individuals with potential access to non-public information about the company. In most countries, trading by corporate insiders such as officers, key employees, directors, and large shareholders may be legal, if this trading is done in a way that does not take advantage of non-public information."  [emphasis mine - Ilene]

…"In May 2007, a bill entitled the "Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act, or STOCK Act" was introduced that would hold congressional and federal employees liable for stock trades they made using information they gained through their jobs and also regulate analysts or "Political Intelligence" firms that research government activities. The bill has not passed."

Members of U.S. House Financial Services Committee snapped up or dumped bank stocks as bottom fell out of market

Posted by Stephen Koff and Sabrina Eaton/Plain Dealer Reporters

As financial markets tumbled and the government worked to stave off panic by pumping billions of dollars into banks last fall, several members of Congress who oversee the banking industry were grabbing up or dumping bank stocks.

Anticipating bargains or profits or just trying to unload before the bottom fell out, these members of the House Financial Services Committee or brokers on their behalf were buying and selling stocks including Bank of America and Citigroup — some of the very corporations their committee would later rap for greed, a Plain Dealer examination of congressional stock market transactions shows.

Financial disclosure records show that some of these Financial Services Committee members, including Ohio Rep. Charlie Wilson, made bank stock trades on the same day the banks were getting a government bailout from a program Congress approved. The transactions may not have been illegal or against congressional rules, but securities attorneys and congressional watchdog groups say they raise flags about the appearance of conflicts of interest.

"I don’t think that any of these people should be owning these types of financial instruments," said Brian Biggins, a Cleveland securities lawyer and former stock brokerage manager. "I’m not saying they shouldn’t be in the stock market. But if they’re on the banking committee and trading in these kinds of stocks, I don’t think that’s right."…

Many details about the massive financial bailout last fall were widely known outside Capitol Hill. Yet members of the Financial Services Committee were privy to closed-door discussions, staff briefings and political horse-trading decisions between political parties, Congress and the White House. Banks lobbied Congress and the administration heavily.

Banks that received bailout money spent $77 million on lobbying and $37 million on federal campaign contributions last year, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The center found that the banks spending the heaviest got the biggest rescue packages.

There has been no direct evidence that this allowed members to engage in insider trading. But when lawmakers overseeing banks also buy and sell bank stocks, it can create "the appearance of a problem," said Anthony J. Hartman, a Cleveland securities attorney…

 • Members of Congress were chasing profits while making policy

Full article here.

 


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