Submitted by: Debbie Warren
'60 Minutes' on 'honest graft'
CBS’ 60 Minutes went after Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and Financial Services Committee ChairmanSpencer Bachus (R-Ala.) in a Sunday story covering allegations of insider trading and “soft corruption” by powerful members of Congress.
60 Minutes based its report, which also focused on former Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and ex-Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), on research by Peter Schweizer, a fellow at the conservative Hoover Institution. Schweizer said he and his team of eight student researchers found “forms of honest graft” by lawmakers.
“So it’s not illegal, but I think it’s highly unethical, I think it’s highly offensive, and wrong,” Schweizer told 60 Minutes of what he discovered.
Schweizer was a speechwriting consultant for former President George W. Bush and helped write a book with conservative commentator Glenn Beck. He is also listed as the editor of website run by conservative journalist Andrew Breitbart. Schweizer’s official bio at the Hoover Institution says he is a “former consultant to NBC News” and has “also served as a member of the Ultraterrorism Study Group at the U.S. government’s Sandia National Laboratory.”
The allegations regarding Bachus, Hastert and Gregg covered by 60 Minutes are several years old and have received extensive media coverage already.
Bachus, as ranking member of the Financial Services Committee, traded stock options for General Electric, Burlington Northern Santa Fe, and Sony, among others in the midst of the 2008 U.S. financial crisis. Bachus was getting briefed by top officials at the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve about the impending collapse of the American financial markets. His stock trades, which were first reported on by the Wall Street Journal in April 2010, netted the Alabama Republican about $28,000, according to his financial disclosure reports.
Bachus told 60 Minutes that he “never trades on non public information, or financial services stocks,” although GE has a large financial unit.
Boehner bought health-care stocks in 2009 shortly before the “public option” – universal health care – was dropped from the Democratic health care bill. Boehner said his financial adviser oversees all such decisions.
“I have not made any decisions on day-to-day trading activities of my account and haven’t for years. I do not do it, haven’t done it and wouldn’t do it,” Boehner said during a Nov. 3 press conference when asked about the transactions by Steve Kroft.
Boehner’s office dismissed the 60 Minutes report as absurd.
GOP aides pointed that as House minority leader, Boehner did not have the power to “kill” any legislation.
In addition, Boehner closed out a retirement account during that year - 2009 - from his days as a small business owner prior to his election to Congress and made numerous stock transactions.
“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 GOP aide.