Lawmakers' transactions raise red flags

The Cleveland Plain-Dealer just ruined some lawmakers' weekends.

In a report published last night, the Plain-Dealer flagged a number of worrisome stock transactions made by members of Congress--including some on House Financial Services Committee--during the bailout frenzy late last year.

The instances cited by the Plain-Dealer certainly do seem to raise some question. For example:
Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, a Florida Republican, bought Citigroup stock valued between $1,001 and $15,000 on Oct. 2, the day before the House passed the financial rescue bill and President George W. Bush signed it into law, records show. She opposed the bill.

Eleven days later, she bought $1,001 to $15,000 worth of Bank of America stock. It was on the same day that then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson told leading banks that he expected them to accept billions in bailout money to prevent a financial meltdown.

Brown-Waite was on the Financial Services committee at the time. Her office refused to comment for the piece.

And there's more:
[Rep. Charlie] Wilson, a Democrat from the eastern Ohio town of Bridgeport, sold between $15,001 and $50,000 worth of Huntington Bancshares stock on Nov. 14, the same day Huntington got $1.4 billion in bailout money from the federal Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, records show. Wilson's transactions over the course of last autumn also included Bank of America and BB&T, both beneficiaries of the bank rescue program that Treasury implemented after congressional passage.

Wilson's spokeswoman said the congressman did not personally pick these trades because he leaves day-to-day investment decisions to a money manager who uses a proprietary model in selecting securities to buy or sell.

Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.) used the same defense as Wilson--that she is not in control of her transactions--when the Plain-Dealer questioned her about buying $2,275 of JP Morgan stock while Congress was crafting a bailout for the company.

The reports also cites transactions by Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.), and Rep. Judith Biggert (R-Ill.)

Read the whole thing here.