How congressmen of both parties line their pockets
Terrific 60 Minutes piece last night based on Peter Schweizer's book, Throw Them All Out. Repeated examples of what's basically insider trading from congressional members of both parties.
In these cases the inside information isn't generally on corporate buyouts or surprising financial results about to be announced. The information is on impending changes in government policy that will affect corporate profits or the value of other assets. But guess what? Members of Congress are exempt from laws that apply to others in Washington banning profiting from inside political information. (For example, Bernanke can't go out and short bonds and stocks the day before he announces a huge increase in interest rates. For good reason.)
Check out this little flip by Dennis Hastert, from the 60 Minutes script:
When Illinois Congressman Dennis Hastert became speaker of the House in 1999, he was worth a few hundred thousand dollars. He left the job eight years later a multi-millionaire.
Jan Strasma: The road that Hastert wants to build will go through these farm fields right here.
In 2005, Speaker Hastert got a $207 million federal earmark to build the Prairie Parkway through these cornfields near his home. What Jan Strasma and his neighbors didn't know was that Hastert had also bought some land adjacent to where the highway is supposed to go.
Strasma: And five months after this earmark went through he sold that land and made a bundle of money.
Kroft: How much?
Strasma: Two million dollars.
Kroft: What do you think of it?
Strasma: It stinks.