this week over Throw Them All Out, Peter Schweizer’s explosive new expose, which pulls back the curtain on the appalling frequency of ‘legal’ insider trading in Congress.
By Schweizer’s account, one of the biggest culprits is John Kerry, the powerful Massachusetts Democrat and also, incidentally, the wealthiest member of the Senate.
As a member of the Senate Finance Committee’s Subcommittee on Health, Kerry played a key role in shaping President Obama’s healthcare reform legislation in 2009 — while also raking in cash from healthcare investments.
Here’s how he did it, according to Schweizer:
- As passage Obamacare seemed more likely, Kerry bought nearly $750,000 in Teva Pharmaceuticals stock, one of several big drug companies that benefitted from the health care bill. When the bill was signed in 2010, the Kerrys sold some of their Teva shares, making tens of thousands of dollars in capital gains. They kept more than $1 million worth of Teva stock.
- In 2009, the Kerrys also picked up shares in ResMed, a medical device manufacturer that was a big winner in the healthcare reform battle. In early versions of the bill, medical device companies would have been subject to higher taxes. Kerry opposed the taxes, and the fees were much lower in the final version. ResMed’s stock rose 71% when the bill was passed.
- The Kerrys also invested in hospital supplier Thermo Fisher Scientific, a major beneficiary of the healthcare bill. The stock jumped 40% after Obamacare passed.
- At the same time, the Kerrys dumped all of their investments in the health insurance industry, including shares in United Health and Wellpoint. Needlesstosay, healthcare providers were the biggest losers in Obamacare.
Schweizer notes that Kerry has been cashing in on inside information about the healthcare industry since long before Obamacare:
- In May 15, 2007, the federal government decided to end reimbursements for an obscure anemia drug manufactured by Amgen, causing the company’s stock to plummet. The Kerrys avoided the loss by selling all of their stock in Amgen on May 4 and May 7.
- In 2003, when Congress was negotiating Medicare Part D, the prescription drug benefit program, the Kerrys made 111 trades in pharmaceutical companies and the healthcare providers that would administer the plan. In 2004, after the bill became law, the Kerrys started selling some of their drug company stocks, netting between $100,000 and $1 million from their investment in Oxford Health Plans, and tens of thousands more from Pfizer, Johnson&Johnson, and Cardinal Health.
And Kerry is only one of the more blatant insider traders in Congress. The practice is actually really common, particularly as politicians rise through the ranks. But even more shocking than the trades themselves is the fact that all this is actually legal under Congressional ethics rules.
UPDATE: 11/17/2011, 11:50 a.m.:
Kerry’s office has denied any wrongdoing, and said that the Kerrys investments are managed by independent trustees.
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