Wednesday, December 21, 2011

An envelope of cash


Guess what? A Congressman accepting an envelope, from a corporate CEO, with $60,000 in it is not actually against the law!

But maybe it will be discouraged in the future:
Rep. Don Young (R-AK) didn’t break any rules when he accepted $60,000 — far over the $5,000 limit — in donations to his legal fund from entities that were controlled by the same family, the House Ethics Committee found this week. But they’re making sure that other members can’t exploit the same loophole in the future.

Young, according to the House Ethics Committee’s report, received the donations in an envelope from fishing buddy Gary Chouest, who is president of a marine transportation company.

“When it comes to campaign finance law, that’s clearly a violation,” Public Citizen’s Craig Holman told TPM. “It’s well established as a violation of that type of rule.”

The House Ethics report makes it clear that donations to legal funds from entities controlled by one individual will be counted together in the future, even though they cleared Young of any violations.

Well, better than nothing, I guess.


Chimeradave said...

I also heard that it's perfectly legal for them to do what amounts to insider trading. They can invest in stocks when they know a new law will cause the company's stock to rise.

It's illegal for any other citizen but for members of Congress it's legal.

WCG said...

I could be mistaken, John, but I think you're wrong about that. Insider trading is just as illegal for Congress as for anyone else.

Laws do have an effect on stock prices sometimes, but it's not insider trading to get briefed on Congressional matters. It might seem sleazy, but it's not illegal.

With our system of government, politicians need to keep the rich happy. After all, these days, billionaires can spend unlimited amounts of money either supporting or opposing a candidate. That's a defect of the system, a very serious defect.

But telling someone how you plan to vote - and your best guess at how other Congressmen will vote, too - isn't insider trading, not legally. And it's not even if you buy stock on that basis, yourself.

Now, if a politician agreed to trade his vote for money, that would be illegal. But these things are seldom as blatant as that (although the effect might be the same).