Members of Congress can legally make trades on non-public information they obtain during their official duties, CBS News’ ’60 Minutes’ reported on Sunday night.
Branded ‘honest graft,’ lawmakers can use market-moving information that they learn in congressional committees to trade on the stock market — actions that likely would carry stiff jail and civil penalties if they did not hold public office.
In one example, Steve Kroft reports that Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL), now the chair of the House Financial Services Committee, bet against the market in the days before the 2008 financial crisis hit — after getting ‘apocalyptic briefings’ from Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and then-Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson.
Kroft also raises questions about the trading patterns of Speaker of the House John Boehner and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi — and the real estate purchases of other senators and representatives.
The report relies heavily on the work of Peter Schweizer, a fellow at the conservative Hoover Institution, whose work ’60 Minutes’ independently verified.
“This is a venture opportunity,” Schweizer told ’60 Minutes.’ “This is an opportunity to leverage your position in public service and use that position to enrich yourself, your friends, and your family.”
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