Call insider trading by Congress what it is – not just profound hypocrisy, arrogance and abuse of power, manipulation of high office for personal profit, but something simpler – public corruption, a crime. The time has come to call a spade a spade. Insider trading by Congress is criminal.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (R-CA) is worth $114 million dollars, much of it stemming from private activity, including stock trades worth millions, by her husband. Timing of these trades, if one looks back over events and information known only to Congress, creates a strong presumption.
Nor is Pelosi alone. Congress is full of secrets, members entitled to classified, internal committee, legislative, and spending data no one else in America sees, all without needing security clearance.
No record is kept of who sees what information, what that information might mean to someone clandestinely trading on it – through a family member and then quietly pocketing the illicit profits.
Worse, since Congress polices itself on ethics, and Democrats in the Biden White House and at Garland’s Justice Department want to retain power at all costs, no one is calling out the public corruption.
The disgrace gets deeper, and hypocrisy and criminality go further than many suspect. The leading piece of legislation intended to address potentially rampant cheating on the stock market with privileged data has gone nowhere, was only supported by 14 members, and was permanently iced by Pelosi.
What no one will say is that members of Congress are participating in a criminal practice, and it already violates federal statutes. Anti-insider trading laws apply to both corporate officers or employees, and to those “tipped” with “non-public information.
Laws like “rule 10b-5” make clear that a crime occurs when someone – any person – “gets a tip from an Insider of the Company concerning information about the Company that is material and nonpublic, and trades (i.e. purchase or sells) the Company’s stock or other securities.”
To those who say, this only involves a tip from the company itself, that plainly is not the public policy being served. The idea is to prevent cheating, and where does that matter most? It should matter most when with public trust. If we expect honest corporate fiduciaries, we should expect more of Congress.
Nor is the “just a family member” ruse an excuse. Inside trading by Pelosi’s husband – or any Congressional family member or presidential family member – is still criminal. Thus, the statute above notes: “This policy also applies to your family members who reside with you, anyone else who lives in your household, and family members who do not live in your household but whose securities transactions are directed by you or are subject to your influence or control, as well as trusts or other entities for which you make investment decisions.”
Can the law be any clearer? Pelosi and her husband, profiting from what they know – as the timeline strongly suggests – should be investigated, as appropriate prosecuted. So should other members of Congress and staff, Republican or Democrat, who trade on what others cannot – information known for the public good.
Other statues apply – and yet the same Justice Department intent on not enforcing laws designed to protect conservative Supreme Court justices, pursuing politically motivated indictment of a former president, and investigating conservative parents as terrorists, will not investigate the Democrat House Speaker.
Ask yourself other questions, because they are relevant if truth in government is relevant. How can it be that only one piece of legislation expressly forbidding insider trading by Congress has been put through committee? How can it be the bill has only 14 c-sponsors? How can it be that past abuses are not investigated and pursued?
The excuses should no longer be tolerated, bland privilege to profit illicitly on public trust left undiscussed. The time has come to honor the law – make clear we expect honesty from those in public service, and drive home the point that no one is above the law, least of all those entrusted to draft, implement, and enforce it.
One wonders how the President and Attorney General can sleep at night unless they think ends justify means, corruption is permissible, and non-enforcement of laws against partisan friends somehow within their authority is acceptable. It is not, never has been, and amounts to a tacit violation of their oath of office, opening the door to wider questions.
Put differently, imagine that your spouse or a relative, or someone you live with is in charge of picking the winning numbers for some local, state, or federal lottery – and now imagine that they mention those numbers to you. They do not buy a lottery ticket, but they know you may. You do, you win, and everyone else loses. Fair?
The point is that we are slipping – as a Republic – into the realm of tacit agreement that crime at the top is okay, that public corruption is somehow a forgivable privilege for those who hold power. That is what the Soviet Union did, what corrupt dictators, legislatures, cabinet members, judges, and their partisan minions do all over the world. That is NOT what America has ever stood for, advocated, permitted, or tolerated.
What we need is honest public servants, motivated to do the right thing, not corrupt presidents, attorneys general, leaders, or members of Congress who have decided the law does not matter, honor and honesty are dead, and they are entitled to do anything to get ahead.
Bottom line: We are the custodians of this republic, and every single day deserve honest representatives, in all three branches of the federal – and for that matter also state – governments. If we will hold onto this republic, if we will keep the Constitution and rule of law as our rudder, it is time we call a spade a spade. Insider trading by Congress – and profiting from power while a vice president or president – is against the law. This kind of betrayal – of the public trust – is not just awkward, inconvenient, frustrating, infuriating, and wrong – it is a crime.
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