An ‘Honor System’ for Those Without Honor

 

I realize most of you are not as interested in this topic as I may be, but this may still be of interest to you:

Congress and top Capitol Hill staff have violated the STOCK Act hundreds of times. But the consequences are minimal, inconsistent, and not recorded publicly.

…49 members of Congress and at least 182 of the highest-paid Capitol Hill staffers were late in filing their stock trades during 2020 and 2021.

Lawmakers and senior congressional staffers who blow past the deadlines established by the 2012 Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act are supposed to pay a late fee of $200 the first time. Increasingly higher fines follow if they continue to be late — potentially costing tens of thousands of dollars in extreme cases.

But accountability and transparency are decidedly lacking.

Forty-nine seems a bit low…how many others filed incomplete forms or otherwise just flat out lied on them? (Same question for the staffers.) But surely I overestimate the lack of honor in our ruling beltway:

Congressional ethics staff wouldn’t confirm the existence of nonpublic ledgers tracking how many officials paid fines for violating the STOCK Act. And 19 lawmakers wouldn’t answer questions from Insider about whether they’d paid a penalty. Ten other lawmakers said they’d paid their fines, but they declined to provide proof, such as a receipt or canceled check.

Not very transparent there but surely Nancy’s House overflows with honor (aside from her dirty Tesla stock purchase earlier this year, of course. But I digress):

It also shows how Congress sets a lower standard for itself on financial conflict-of-interest matters than on other concerns. For instance, consider that the House routinely issues automatic fines when members violate COVID-19 mask mandates and makes the information public. But when it comes to a member’s personal finances, the House doesn’t do a particularly good job of policing itself on a law it helped write.

At least we can count on the Ethics Committees, right?:

No reports exist showing how often the Office of Congressional Ethics investigated financial-disclosure matters before the STOCK Act’s passage. But one former attorney who worked in the office said nothing changed after lawmakers passed the law.

“We were not looking into it. There was just nobody paying attention to it. No one was filing complaints,” said Kedric Payne, who was the former deputy chief counsel at the Office of Congressional Ethics around the time that the STOCK Act was passed. …

“When you have the ethics committee, who has failed to go after these blatant violations — it sends a message that anything goes,” Payne added.

Yes, it appears that anything goes among our entitled class in this government of the people, by the better people, and for the betterment of the pocketbooks of those better people.

Good day.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

For those who need to catch up on their reading, here are some handy links:

On Being a Country Class Schmuck: We Get What We Deserve

Behind the Scenes Fun of the Day: Complex Rivers of Cash

Normalized Corruption, the Game: Guess the Senator?

Normalized Corruption – The Little Dick Edition

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  1. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    philo: realize most of you are not as interested in this topic as I may be, but this may still be of interest to you:

    Insider trading is far from the worst kind of corruption in our congressional system, but yes, it is corrupt and there should be transparency.  So, yes, I am interested. Thank you for keeping us informed. 

    • #1
  2. philo Member
    philo
    @philo

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    philo: realize most of you are not as interested in this topic as I may be, but this may still be of interest to you:

    Insider trading is far from the worst kind of corruption in our congressional system, but yes, it is corrupt and there should be transparency. So, yes, I am interested. Thank you for keeping us informed.

    Maybe not the worst but it appears it is the gateway corruption upon entry into the “system” that enables the more extreme bastardizations of the system.

    • #2
  3. DrewInWisconsin, Oaf Member
    DrewInWisconsin, Oaf
    @DrewInWisconsin

    When Congress proudly passed the STOCK act, it was suggested at the time that all it would do was ensure they’d work harder to hide their insider trading.

     

    • #3
  4. DonG (CAGW is a hoax) Coolidge
    DonG (CAGW is a hoax)
    @DonG

    If I ran the GOP I would have a Contract With America 2022 and on the top of the list would be stopping “insider” trading by members of Congress.  In fact, my law would block all stock purchases and require all trades to be announced publicly 7 days before. 

    However, the GOP is terrible at marketing and indifferent to corruption.   I think a series of laws that make it very painful after 12 years in Congress is probably legal and would be great to try. 

    • #4
  5. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    The other day I heard an intriguing idea: Upon being elected to a particular office, the politician’s assets are frozen until the politician leaves that office.

    Whatever stocks, bonds, mutual funds, real estate, etc. the politician owns upon being elected, the politician still owns when he leaves office (whether by his decision or by the electorate). So the politician still gets the benefit of general appreciation in the value of his assets. But he can’t benefit from careful timing of buying or selling in response to information the legislative body gets, or in anticipation of some action the legislative body is going to take. 

    The idea was presented as a way to get some practical de facto term limits (few politicians would want their assets frozen for decades), but it also reduces the opportunities for financial shenanigans. It’s not perfect, but no system is perfect. 

    • #5
  6. kedavis Inactive
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    The other day I heard an intriguing idea: Upon being elected to a particular office, the politician’s assets are frozen until the politician leaves that office.

    Whatever stocks, bonds, mutual funds, real estate, etc. the politician owns upon being elected, the politician still owns when he leaves office (whether by his decision or by the electorate). So the politician still gets the benefit of general appreciation in the value of his assets. But he can’t benefit from careful timing of buying or selling in response to information the legislative body gets, or in anticipation of some action the legislative body is going to take.

    The idea was presented as a way to get some practical de facto term limits (few politicians would want their assets frozen for decades), but it also reduces the opportunities for financial shenanigans. It’s not perfect, but no system is perfect.

    So, what you’re describing sounds like a system that keeps Joe Biden from making his own deals, but leaves Hunter Biden to do all the corruption he can find, based on The Big Guy’s influence, position, etc.  While funneling 10% (or more) to Joe.

    • #6
  7. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell
    @JimMcConnell

    DonG (CAGW is a hoax) (View Comment):

    If I ran the GOP I would have a Contract With America 2022 and on the top of the list would be stopping “insider” trading by members of Congress. In fact, my law would block all stock purchases and require all trades to be announced publicly 7 days before.

    However, the GOP is terrible at marketing and indifferent to corruption. I think a series of laws that make it very painful after 12 years in Congress is probably legal and would be great to try.

    It would still be far too easy for the critters to hide their corrupt trading by using family members as fronts. See the Biden family for an outstanding example.

    • #7
  8. philo Member
    philo
    @philo

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    The other day I heard an intriguing idea: Upon being elected to a particular office, the politician’s assets are frozen until the politician leaves that office.

    Whatever stocks, bonds, mutual funds, real estate, etc. the politician owns upon being elected, the politician still owns when he leaves office (whether by his decision or by the electorate). So the politician still gets the benefit of general appreciation in the value of his assets. But he can’t benefit from careful timing of buying or selling in response to information the legislative body gets, or in anticipation of some action the legislative body is going to take.

    The idea was presented as a way to get some practical de facto term limits (few politicians would want their assets frozen for decades), but it also reduces the opportunities for financial shenanigans. It’s not perfect, but no system is perfect.

    So, what you’re describing sounds like a system that keeps Joe Biden from making his own deals, but leaves Hunter Biden to do all the corruption he can find, based on The Big Guy’s influence, position, etc. While funneling 10% (or more) to Joe.

    For you and the good Mr. McConnell after you, I repeat:

    I often throw around the “completely corrupt” theme somewhat flippantly when talking about our beltway betters and the charade they perform for us while enriching themselves. Unfortunately, as definitive as that simple phrase may be, it really does understate just how much the operations of this Potemkin constitutional republic have been distorted and bastardized into one hell of a joke on us, We the People.

    • #8
  9. CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill Coolidge
    CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill
    @CarolJoy

    philo (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    philo: realize most of you are not as interested in this topic as I may be, but this may still be of interest to you:

    Insider trading is far from the worst kind of corruption in our congressional system, but yes, it is corrupt and there should be transparency. So, yes, I am interested. Thank you for keeping us informed.

    Maybe not the worst but it appears it is the gateway corruption upon entry into the “system” that enables the more extreme bastardizations of the system.

    Especially given that 75% of all congress critters own stock in Pfizer or Moderna, or so the latest social media meme out there happens to announce.

    • #9
  10. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    The other day I heard an intriguing idea: Upon being elected to a particular office, the politician’s assets are frozen until the politician leaves that office.

    Whatever stocks, bonds, mutual funds, real estate, etc. the politician owns upon being elected, the politician still owns when he leaves office (whether by his decision or by the electorate). So the politician still gets the benefit of general appreciation in the value of his assets. But he can’t benefit from careful timing of buying or selling in response to information the legislative body gets, or in anticipation of some action the legislative body is going to take.

    The idea was presented as a way to get some practical de facto term limits (few politicians would want their assets frozen for decades), but it also reduces the opportunities for financial shenanigans. It’s not perfect, but no system is perfect.

    So, what you’re describing sounds like a system that keeps Joe Biden from making his own deals, but leaves Hunter Biden to do all the corruption he can find, based on The Big Guy’s influence, position, etc. While funneling 10% (or more) to Joe.

    True, but if they were all forced to go there, then attention might be focused there.  

    • #10
  11. Victor Tango Kilo Member
    Victor Tango Kilo
    @VtheK

    DonG (CAGW is a hoax) (View Comment):
    If I ran the GOP I would have a Contract With America 2022 and on the top of the list would be stopping “insider” trading by members of Congress.

    Yeah, but the GOP is already in on the insider trading. 

    • #11
  12. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    What’s the difference between a Wall Street inside trader and a congressman inside trader?

    Protection, especially if a Democrat . . .

    • #12
  13. DrewInWisconsin, Oaf Member
    DrewInWisconsin, Oaf
    @DrewInWisconsin

    Martha Stewart was sent to prison for doing what Nancy Pelosi does every day.

    • #13
  14. Fritz Coolidge
    Fritz
    @Fritz

    DrewInWisconsin, Oaf (View Comment):

    Martha Stewart was sent to prison for doing what Nancy Pelosi does every day.

    Yeah —  lying. To the FBI in the case of Stewart, to the American people in the case of Pelosi.

    • #14
  15. DonG (CAGW is a hoax) Coolidge
    DonG (CAGW is a hoax)
    @DonG

    Jim McConnell (View Comment):

    DonG (CAGW is a hoax) (View Comment):

    If I ran the GOP I would have a Contract With America 2022 and on the top of the list would be stopping “insider” trading by members of Congress. In fact, my law would block all stock purchases and require all trades to be announced publicly 7 days before.

    However, the GOP is terrible at marketing and indifferent to corruption. I think a series of laws that make it very painful after 12 years in Congress is probably legal and would be great to try.

    It would still be far too easy for the critters to hide their corrupt trading by using family members as fronts. See the Biden family for an outstanding example.

    In my world, family members are included.   If you don’t want your assets locked into the generic total market fund, don’t let your relative run for Congress.

     

    • #15
  16. philo Member
    philo
    @philo

    NOTICE: This Member post has been promoted to the Main Feed. Content may have been edited / corrected from the original without attribution by Ricochet.

    (Somewhere along the line it seems we – or I – stopped getting notifications about promotions. For what it’s worth, that is/was an important feature to at least one of us.)

    • #16
  17. kedavis Inactive
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    DonG (CAGW is a hoax) (View Comment):

    Jim McConnell (View Comment):

    DonG (CAGW is a hoax) (View Comment):

    If I ran the GOP I would have a Contract With America 2022 and on the top of the list would be stopping “insider” trading by members of Congress. In fact, my law would block all stock purchases and require all trades to be announced publicly 7 days before.

    However, the GOP is terrible at marketing and indifferent to corruption. I think a series of laws that make it very painful after 12 years in Congress is probably legal and would be great to try.

    It would still be far too easy for the critters to hide their corrupt trading by using family members as fronts. See the Biden family for an outstanding example.

    In my world, family members are included. If you don’t want your assets locked into the generic total market fund, don’t let your relative run for Congress.

    Wouldn’t that tend to get us congresspeople who themselves and their families aren’t capable of being smart in the markets, etc?  Don’t we already have enough dunderheads in Congress, even if they are money-grubbing dunderheads, without practically mandating it?

    I’m not sure what the answer is, but that doesn’t really sound like a good answer when thought about for a while.

    • #17
  18. DonG (CAGW is a hoax) Coolidge
    DonG (CAGW is a hoax)
    @DonG

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):
    The idea was presented as a way to get some practical de facto term limits (few politicians would want their assets frozen for decades)

    That is the right attitude.   How about after 12 years, a member of Congress must list (within 24 hours) the names & zip code of any person that they or their staffs meet or call.   Regulate them out of re-election.

    How about we boost the pay of Congress members, but while in Congress and for 10 years after serving, they pay a 100% tax on any income above their Congressional salary.  

    • #18
  19. kedavis Inactive
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    DonG (CAGW is a hoax) (View Comment):

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):
    The idea was presented as a way to get some practical de facto term limits (few politicians would want their assets frozen for decades)

    That is the right attitude. How about after 12 years, a member of Congress must list (within 24 hours) the names & zip code of any person that they or their staffs meet or call. Regulate them out of re-election.

    How about we boost the pay of Congress members, but while in Congress and for 10 years after serving, they pay a 100% tax on any income above their Congressional salary.

    Sounds like another way of guaranteeing that only the more useless people would run.

    • #19
  20. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell
    @JimMcConnell

    There are lots of good suggestions for eliminating/reducing corruption in Congress, but how are we going to get any of them passed… by Congress?

    • #20
  21. kedavis Inactive
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Jim McConnell (View Comment):

    There are lots of good suggestions for eliminating/reducing corruption in Congress, but how are we going to get any of them passed… by Congress?

    Could the states put these restrictions on their representatives?

    • #21
  22. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    But. But.

    Seems to me that we are told by others there is not an “elite”. 

     

     

     

     

    • #22
  23. philo Member
    philo
    @philo

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Jim McConnell (View Comment):

    There are lots of good suggestions for eliminating/reducing corruption in Congress, but how are we going to get any of them passed… by Congress?

    Could the states put these restrictions on their representatives?

    I’m pretty sure they don’t have standing on such matters anymore. 

    • #23
  24. Dotorimuk Coolidge
    Dotorimuk
    @Dotorimuk

    The Biden family has always seemed pretty open about their corruption.

    • #24
  25. philo Member
    philo
    @philo

    Speaking of those without honor, both individually and institutionally in this case:

    DC bar restores status of convicted ex-FBI lawyer who deceived the FISA court during Russia probe. “Typically, a case like Kevin Clinesmith’s would end in disbarment, but not this time.”

    I wish I knew how to make “completely corrupt” sound as big as it really is.

    • #25
  26. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell
    @JimMcConnell

    philo (View Comment):

    Speaking of those without honor, both individually and institutionally in this case:

    DC bar restores status of convicted ex-FBI lawyer who deceived the FISA court during Russia probe. “Typically, a case like Kevin Clinesmith’s would end in disbarment, but not this time.”

    I wish I knew how to make “completely corrupt” sound as big as it really is.

    Sometimes there just aren’t enough adjectives, are there? Maybe the Greeks had a word for it.

    • #26
  27. philo Member
    philo
    @philo

    Jim McConnell (View Comment): It would still be far too easy for the critters to hide their corrupt trading by using family members as fronts.

    Clearly you don’t understand the iron clad separation between public servant and family observed by our ruling class. Here is my favorite example:

    The Ethics in Government Act requires members of Congress to file transaction reports when they — or their spouses or dependent children — buy or sell stock or securities for any transaction that exceeds $1,000.

    On Jan. 21, Pelosi filed a report with the House detailing her husband’s transactions with Tesla and other companies.

    The report shows that her husband, Paul Pelosi, bought 25 call options — a contract to purchase a stock, without obligation, at a certain price until a set expiration date — of Tesla stock for between $500,001 and $1 million on Dec. 22, more than a month before Biden signed the executive order in question.

    Drew Hammill, Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff, emphasized that the investments in question were made by her husband and that, “The Speaker has no involvement or prior knowledge of these transactions.

    [Emphasis added]

    There you have it. Where I erroneously see unseemly behavior (or worse) our reliably incurious press (and every other controlling legal authority) seems to have keenly identified that, while it is a fact that the important flow of insider information is important in one direction only, a denial that there was a flow of information in the other direction is satisfactory and no real follow-up questioning is required of the obviously corrupt Speaker of the U.S House of Representatives. What a country!

    • #27
  28. CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill Coolidge
    CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill
    @CarolJoy

    DrewInWisconsin, Oaf (View Comment):

    Martha Stewart was sent to prison for doing what Nancy Pelosi does every day.

    Di Feinstein leaked information she got as a Senate member of an intelligence committee. (A committe whose information is barred from release to anyone not on the committee, as all its info is considered top secret.

    She found out when areas in Iraq would be bombed, and her husband, Richard Blum,  then  chose those locations where he would have enough time to bid on the site as part of “Iraq’s Reconstruction,” then he would pretend he started construction at those sites when his bids were approved. Then he claimed his major re-construction efforts had all been obliterated by American bombing campaigns.

    So he got monies for materials, expenses, construction employees, and never shelled out a dime, in many of his projects. (Plus she violated her national security oath.)

    • #28
  29. philo Member
    philo
    @philo

    CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill (View Comment):

    DrewInWisconsin, Oaf (View Comment):

    Martha Stewart was sent to prison for doing what Nancy Pelosi does every day.

    Di Feinstein leaked information she got as a Senate member of an intelligence committee. (A committe whose information is barred from release to anyone not on the committee, as all its info is considered top secret.

    She found out when areas in Iraq would be bombed, and her husband, Richard Blum, then chose those locations where he would have enough time to bid on the site as part of “Iraq’s Reconstruction,” then he would pretend he started construction at those sites when his bids were approved. Then he claimed his major re-construction efforts had all been obliterated by American bombing campaigns.

    So he got monies for materials, expenses, construction employees, and never shelled out a dime, in many of his projects. (Plus she violated her national security oath.)

    Have I mentioned how I wished I knew how to make “completely corrupt” sound as big as it really is?

    • #29
  30. DrewInWisconsin, Oaf Member
    DrewInWisconsin, Oaf
    @DrewInWisconsin

    philo (View Comment):

    NOTICE: This Member post has been promoted to the Main Feed.

    Uh-oh. Is there any way this can be spun to be Trump’s fault?

     

    • #30
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