Honest Graft

Anyone catch 60 Minutes last night? The segment on how people in Congress can engage in insider trading and it is totally legal was shocking to me. Steve Kroft’s questions to Nancy Pelosi during a news conference (she refused, as did all those in Congress that have been alleged to have profited from inside information, to sit down for an interview) were priceless, she looked her head was going to explode. I don’t have a particularly strong opinion about Pelosi, most politicians seem vaguely slimy and unable to answer things honestly, but I’ve always thought that she was generally one whose views are not terribly far off from mine. But I was pretty disgusted by her profiting from Visa stock when she had access to information about a bill working its way through Congress that affect the industry. And her annoyed equivocations to Kroft were revealing and pretty sickening. I support the idea posed in the segment that all equities for any elected official should be placed in a blind trust. That wouldn’t have stopped Dennis Hastert from buying land near where he knew a new highway was going to be constructed and profiting by $2 million. But it would be a start, and we should be considering increased scrutiny of those types of situations as well.

60 Minutes, most definitely one of my favorite things on television, did something the previous week on Jack Abramhoff and lobbying that also almost turned my stomach. I feel like our system has been almost fatally corrupted. I also support the idea raised in that segment that if you’re an elected official or work for one then you have to then agree to not work as a lobbyist, at least for a set number of years. Abranhoff was able to buy the influence of key staffers by offers of employment when they leave Congress, and those are very lucrative positions.

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