Something rotten in Washington

Suppose this kind of things has anything to do with America’s distrust of politicians and the historically low approval ratings of Congress? From The Patriot Post today:

Insider Trading Inside the Beltway

In his new book, Throw Them All Out, Peter Schweizer writes that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and her millionaire real estate developer husband were beneficiaries of a 2008 Visa IPO that greatly increased their personal wealth. The Pelosis bought somewhere between $1 million and $5 million worth of Visa stock (ethics rules don’t require further specificity) in an IPO that saw their investment bring a 203 percent return. The vast majority of purchase options in this offering were targeted for institutional investors, pension funds and Pelosi herself, who at the time was Speaker and the gatekeeper of legislation in the House. She was invited to “invest” just two weeks after the Credit Card Fair Fee Act was introduced, a bill that would have strictly curtailed the fees that credit card companies charged to retailers. Oddly enough, the bill never made it to the floor for a vote, despite passing the Judiciary Committee and being lobbied by the National Association of Convenience Stores.

A second bill crafted later that year, the Credit Card Interchange Fee Act, likewise died before making it to the House floor. In 2009 Pelosi supported the Credit Card Reform Act, which didn’t address the retailer fee issue, claiming that it sent a “strong and clear message to credit card companies.” Certainly Pelosi is not the only member of Congress from either party who has been the beneficiary of such industry kickbacks. But this also wasn’t the only IPO that she was invited to partake by a company that later benefited from legislation she backed or quashed. On Dec. 6, the House Financial Services Committee will hold hearings on insider trading by members of Congress.

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