In Congress, it’s easy to do the kind of stock trading that “would send the rest of us to prison,” writes Peter Schweizer in a new book on the Hill’s upside-down ethics. Members of Congress are, of course, equipped with insider knowledge about upcoming policy, and they’re able to play the market based on that knowledge, Schweizer asserts. In Throw Them All Out, the author probes the trading activities of a handful of congressional leaders of both parties, and finds evidence of questionable dealings.
The author’s “holy crap” moment came during an investigation of John Kerry. The senator’s brokers bought stock in 103 pharmaceutical firms in 2003, right around the time of new Medicare legislation that benefited the companies. If a health care exec with knowledge of upcoming legislation made a similar move, he could face an SEC probe, Schweizer notes. “The only group in America that we exempt is politicians, who are probably the last people about whom we should be saying, ‘Oh, we’ll take their word for it,’” he tells Newsweek.