Since there are so few actual ethical lines for them to cross, imagine how bad it has to be by the time they actually get around to an investigation! And let’s not kid ourselves, it’s on both sides of the aisle:
The Office of Congressional Ethics is investigating the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee over possible violations of insider-trading laws, according to sources familiar with the case.
Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.), who holds one of the most influential positions in the House, has been a frequent trader on Capitol Hill, buying stock options while overseeing the nation’s banking and financial services industries.
The Office of Congressional Ethics, an independent investigative agency, opened its probe late last year after focusing on numerous suspicious trades on Bachus’s annual financial disclosure forms, the sources said. OCE investigators have notified Bachus that he is under investigation and that they have found probable cause to believe that insider-trading violations have occurred.
The case is the first of its kind involving a member of Congress. It comes at a time of intense public scrutiny of congressional ethics, with the House passing legislation Thursday to tighten rules against insider trading by lawmakers. The impetus for the legislation, a version of which passed in the Senate a week earlier, came from a “60 Minutes” report and a book mentioning Bachus’s trades, “Throw Them All Out,” by Peter Schweizer.
“The Office of Congressional Ethics has requested information and I welcome this opportunity to present the facts and set the record straight,” Bachus said in a statement issued Thursday by his spokesman, Tim Johnson.
Omar Ashmawy, OCE staff director and chief counsel, declined to comment. “The office does not confirm or deny whether an investigation is taking place.” Chief counsel for the House Ethics Committee, Dan Schwager, also declined to discuss the case. “The committee doesn’t comment on specific matters or allegations,” he said.