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In 2006, I wrote a piece about then-Congressman Jeb Bradley, who owned about $1 million in oil, gas and electric company stock, took over $45,000 in campaign contributions from energy industry PACs, and consistently voted with energy interests. Today the Washington Post has a front-page story which explores the topic of congressional stock trading more broadly:
In the House, for instance, the proportion of lawmakers with stock investments has risen sharply, from 21 percent in 2001 to 60 percent at the beginning of last year, according to academic researchers and the Center for Responsive Politics. That includes 68 lawmakers who owned more than $100,000 in stock, not including mutual funds, according to records compiled for 2008, the most recent available for electronic analysis.
Long-standing congressional ethics rules allow almost any kind of trading and investment, subject in general to the judgment of individual lawmakers. Those rules also allow spouses to have jobs in areas that touch on a lawmaker’s activity or investments. Moreover, lawmakers are not required to abstain from voting or divest themselves of stock when most potential conflicts arise. Those standards stand in stark contrast to rules that the lawmakers have mandated for others in government and the private sector.
The Post took a close look at the stock trades of Congressman Jim Moran, noting, “The holdings disclosed by Moran in 2008 included stock in General Dynamics and BAE Systems, which both received earmarks requested by Moran that year, according to financial and earmark disclosure records. The earmarks were for $1.6 million each.”
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
On a Friday evening in January, a thousand people at the annual California Native Plant Society conference in San Jose settled down to a banquet and a keynote speech delivered by an environmental historian named Jared Farmer. His chosen topic was the eucalyptus tree and its role in California’s ecology and history. The address did not go well. Eucalyptus is not a native plant but a Victorian import from Australia. In the eyes of those gathered at the San Jose DoubleTree, it qualified as “invasive,” “exotic,” “alien” — all dirty words to this crowd, who were therefore convinced that the tree was dangerously combustible, unfriendly to birds, and excessively greedy in competing for water with honest native species.
In his speech, Farmer dutifully highlighted these ugly attributes, but also quoted a few more positive remarks made by others over the years. This was a reckless move. A reference to the tree as “indigenously Californian” elicited an abusive roar, as did an observation that without the aromatic import, the state would be like a “home without its mother.” Thereafter, the mild-mannered speaker was continually interrupted by boos, groans, and exasperated gasps. Only when he mentioned the longhorn beetle, a species imported (illegally) from Australia during the 1990s with the specific aim of killing the eucalyptus, did he earn a resounding cheer.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A tourism company in Australia announced a service that will allow users to take the “world’s biggest selfies,” and a Texas man accidentally killed himself while trying to pose for a selfie with a handgun.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”