By Jim Campbell
Is soft corruption like “almost pregnant?”
Does this remind you of anyone in particular? One would have to be incredibly naive to believe that members of both sides of the aisle haven’t been doing this for years.
Ask Martha Stewart about insider trading. I could care less what party they are from, put them before a grand jury, if indicted bind them over for trial, if convicted send them to prison. No presidential pardons thank you.
(CNN) — House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi fired back Sunday at a CBS News’ “60 Minutes” report that highlighted several instances of what it suggested could be “soft corruption.”
The show looked at the investments of various lawmakers — including Pelosi, House Speaker John Boehner and Republican Rep. Spencer Bachus of Alabama — who reportedly bought stocks around the same time legislation involving those investments was being discussed.
Pelosi and her husband participated in an initial public offering of Visa in 2008, according to CBS. They bought 5,000 shares at the initial price of $44; two days later, shares were trading at $64, CBS said.
The network reported the investment came at the same time a piece of legislation that was opposed by credit-card companies was making its way through the House.
“Congress has never done more for consumers nor has the Congress passed more critical reforms of the credit card industry than under the Speakership of Nancy Pelosi,” Pelosi spokesman, Drew Hammill, said in a statement soon after the report aired Sunday night.
“It is very troubling that 60 Minutes would base their reporting off of an already-discredited conservative author who has made a career of out attacking Democrats,” he added.
CBS said it used as a starting point for its story the research of Peter Schweizer, a fellow at the Hoover Institution, a conservative think tank at Stanford University.
About a year ago, he began work on a book about “soft corruption” in Washington, CBS reported. The network said it had independently verified the material it used.
Pelosi’s spokesman criticized the CBS story for failing to note that the “legislation in question was reported out of the Judiciary Committee on October 3, 2008 — the day the House was consumed in passing TARP and also the last day the House was in session before the November election.”
It also failed to note that in September 2008, the House passed the Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights, Hammill said.
“In the next Congress, the House and Senate passed and President Obama signed the Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights and the Dodd-Frank legislation, which included a stronger, more direct approach to addressing swipe fees,” the spokesman said.
In addition to Pelosi, the CBS report took a look at the investments of of Bachus and Boehner.
In mid-September 2008, Bachus, then a ranking member on the House Committee on Financial Services, met with then-Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and lawmakers about the imminent collapse of the global economy, CBS reported.
At the same time, Bachus bought options funds, betting markets would go down, CBS said. He also traded General Electric stock, and roughly a third of GE’s business is in financial services, CBS reported.
Bachus declined to talk to CBS, but his office provided a statement that said the representative never trades on non-public information, or financial services stock.
Meanwhile, Boehner, who in 2009 was the House Minority leader, bought health-insurance stocks during the health care debate, all of which increased in value after the so-called public option was killed, CBS reported. Boehner was very much against the public option.
He also declined to be interviewed, but spoke to CBS’ Steve Kroft at a press conference.
“I have not made any decisions on day-to-day trading activities in my account — and haven’t for years. I don’t — I do not do it, haven’t done it and wouldn’t do it,” he said.
A senior House GOP aide told CNN that Boehner’s financial adviser bought a range of blue chip stocks around the same time — not just health care stocks — after he closed out the retirement account from his small business.
“The idea that the Republican leader in the House opposed the public option — policy favored by the left of the left — for personal profit is, frankly, stupid,” said the aide.