Peter Schweizer: Insider Trading Hearings Turn Lawmakers’ Scrutiny on Themselves

Peter Schweizer has penned an op-ed for Fox News discussing the hearings taking place on Capitol Hill, as a direct result of his new book titled “Throw Them All Out.” He writes:

As a result of the stock transactions revealed in my book “Throw Them All Out” and featured on 60 Minutes, both the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and the House Financial Services Committee have been pushed to hold hearings on the subject of congressional insider trading.Some of the individuals I have cited as having engaged in stock deals serve on the very committees who will be conducting the hearings. That’s a little like asking a defendant to also be a juror at their own trial — an absurdity that could only happen in Washington.

Still, these hearings will give citizens and journalists a rare opportunity to see just how serious members of Congress truly are about cleaning up the cronyism and corruption rampant in Washington. It’s a pivotal moment that will hold electoral consequences.

Here, then, are some critical issues Washington watchers should look out for during the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearings on December 1st:

— Two members of this committee were featured in “Throw Them All Out.” Sen. Claire McCaskill bought half a million dollars of Berkshire Hathaway stock just as the bailout was signed. Berkshire was a huge recipient of bailout money, $90 billion. Another member of the committee is Sen. Tom Carper, who also sits on the Health Subcommittee of the Senate Finance Committee. Sen. Carper was the point man on passing Obamacare in 2009. He bought health care stocks that would benefit as he was pushing the bill, as I disclose in the book. Will Sen. McCaskill explain what prompted her critically timed trade of $500,000 in Berkshire Hathaway stock?

[…]

The House Financial Services Committee hearings will be held on December 6th. Critical questions that must be addressed include:

— Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-AL, is one of the most egregious stock options traders in all of Congress. He also happens to be the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee who will be conducting the hearings in the House. Joining him will be Rep. Gary Ackerman, a congressman who received shares of stock he didn’t even have to pay for. Will Rep. Bachus explain why he was engaged in 40 options trades during the 2008 financial crisis? And will Rep. Ackerman reveal why it’s okay to take take stock from a friend? We’ll have to wait and see.

— Will the committees’ list of witnesses be comprised of experts who shrug at the need for congressional insider trading laws? Or will the witnesses represent a diverse range of legal and scholarly perspectives? Early indications are that the committees have stacked the decks with witnesses who will diminish the need to make members of Congress follow the same insider trading laws that citizens are bound by. Observers therefore should pay close attention to the witnesses called.

[…]

Given Congress’s all-time low approval ratings, many citizens may not be terribly sanguine about the prospects for either of these hearings to produce serious results. However, members of Congress have a unique opportunity to respond directly to the will of the people by making it clear that the insider trading laws that apply to us also extend to members of Congress.

You can read the entire article here.

Also, check out this piece over at the Washington Post on purposed legislation to outlaw the practice of insider trading by congressional members.

Like Schweizer, I am skeptical of these hearings being conducted by the same members who have rightly received his scrutiny. Time will tell, so stay tuned for updates.



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