The segment explored the investments habits of members of Congress and whether they benefit from the kind of inside information that it is illegal for investors who don't serve in Congress to use.
The starting point for the show was a book by a conservative author, Peter Schweizer, a fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. Schweizer’s book is Throw Them All Out. It might be good to start with Schweizer’s description of why he wrote the book:
Why did I write this book?
First let me tell you why I didn’t. This is not a book about corrupt political leaders. It is instead about a compromised political system. The purpose of the book is not to single out certain individual members, but to look at a broad pattern of financial transactions and expose possible insider trading and conflicts of interest. The book reveals a pattern of suspicious stock trading by members of congress from both parties based on their financial disclosure statements and legislative activities.
Nevertheless in the hands of “60 Minutes” the piece did become about individual members of Congress, and I thought it was good clean fun. Speaker John Boehner, who says his financial adviser makes decisions for him, and several other members had their investing habits examined. According to the show, Pelosi and her husband reportedly participated in several IPO offerings when relevant legislation was pending. Correspondent Steve Kroft confronted both Boehner, who was less fairly unflappable, and Pelosi at press conferences. You owe it to yourself to watch the piece.
My previous post on Michelle Obama’s makeup man is about privilege. This is a post about privilege, too. There is too much of it in Washington, and it's all the more annoying because Washington wants to tell the rest of us how to live.
Fortunately, we will have an opportunity to discuss the issue of privilege in 2012.
PS. You might also be interested in Schweizer's piece this morning in Newsweek. He raises the question of where government green dollars have been invested. Interestingly, he finds that Obama donors have gotten it.