Report questions whether lawmakers are trading stock on inside information

A report on CBS News’s “60 Minutes” alleges top leaders in Congress, including Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, are getting rich by trading on information gleaned from their congressional duties.

A new report out Sunday from the CBS’s news program “60 Minutes” alleges that top leaders in Congress are getting rich by trading on information they only have access to by way of their positions — a congressional equivalent of “insider trading.”

Boehner (R-Ohio), Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) are all targets, among other lawmakers.

{mosads}The report, which draws heavily from an upcoming book by the Hoover Institution’s Peter Schweizer, points out that the practice, even if unethical, is not illegal.

“The people who make the rules are the political class in Washington. And they’ve conveniently written them in such a way that they don’t apply to themselves,” Schweizer says in the report.

Schweizer and “60 Minutes” claim that during the 2009 debate over healthcare reform, Boehner bought health insurance stocks in the days before Congress conclusively nixed the “public option” — a government-run insurance option that could have siphoned off business from insurance companies.

“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,” Boehner said in his weekly news conference when confronted by CBS news correspondent Steve Kroft.

Democrats were in the majority in both the House and Senate during deliberations over healthcare, and objections from centrist and conservative-leaning Democrats were a key obstacle to the public option.

“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 a House GOP aide, responding to the “60 Minutes” report.

The report also alleges that in 2008, Pelosi, who was the House Speaker at the time, benefited from an initial public offering from Visa — at the same time that the House was considering a bill that would have posed problems for the credit card industry.

But Pelosi said she had never acted on an investment based on information gleamed from her congressional duties, pointing out that the legislation didn’t pass until two years later, and started out in the Senate.

“I will hold my record in terms of fighting the credit card companies as speaker of the House or as a member of Congress up against anyone,” Pelosi says in the report.

This story was updated at 9:20 p.m.

Tags Boehner John Boehner Spencer Bachus

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