Lawmakers Give Inside Info to Big Investors—Legally
Brokerage firms arrange meetings with legislators
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 20, 2011 7:55 AM CST
The flag waves in front of the US Capitol December 19, 2011 in Washington, DC.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – Congressmen aren’t the only ones trading on their inside info. A lucrative practice has sprung up in Washington, in which hedge funds and other investors pay handsomely for private meetings with top lawmakers or their aides, who give them an early scoop on market-moving news, the Wall Street Journal reports. On Dec. 8, 2009, for example, several hedge funds learned of a health care reform deal that would kill the public option—and hence boost shares of private insurers—hours before the public did.

That meeting was set up by JNK Securities, which until recently charged clients $10,000 each for such meetings. That ended when Insider Higher Ed confronted Sen. Tom Harkin about one sit-down last year, causing him to cancel; since then, JNK has simply insisted clients trade through it, paying it commissions, if they use info obtained in the meeting. The practice is totally legal, though Rep. Louise Slaughter has sponsored a bill to outlaw it. Some lawmakers back the bill, but others defend the practice, saying they use the meetings to gather insight from investors. Click to read the entire piece.