Report: Members of Congress trading stocks they influence

CNET/Marguerite Reardon
CNET/Marguerite Reardon

Updated 6:00 p.m. ET

(CBS News) A new report by The Washington Post published Sunday revealed more details about federal lawmakers' trades of stocks and bonds in companies that have business before Congress.  The Post's report comes after a CBS News' 60 Minutes story that revealed members of Congress were not restricted from trading stocks based on non-public information they had access to during the course of congressional business.  The 60 Minutes story led to legislation cracking down on the practice.

The Post conducted an analysis of 45,000 stock trades made by members of Congress from 2007 to 2010, and found that 130 lawmakers - both Republicans and Democrats - conducted trades worth up to $218 million that have business before Congress.

The report published Sunday did not suggest the lawmakers were guilty of insider trading, but, instead, suggested they were conducting business that could be considered a conflict of interest.

The Stock Act, which was passed after the 60 Minutes report, revealed the ability of lawmakers to engage in insider trading, but the Post story notes that the Stock Act still allows members of Congress to trade stocks in businesses and companies they can influence through legislation. (Many of the transactions sighted in the Washington Post occurred before the Stock Act passed.)

Here are some examples cited in The Washington Post:

  • Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., bought $25,000 worth of bonds in Affymetrix, a genetic technology firm that lobbied on the Genetic Nondiscrimination Act, which Coburn held up until changes to the bill were made. John Hart, Coburn's communications director told the Post, "There is no evidence Dr. Coburn had even heard of Affymetrix before his broker made a purchase, and there is no evidence his actions affected the value of the company."
  • Rep. Edward Whitfield, R-Ky., had $50,000 to $100,000 in General Electric and sold his shares for $32 each. Soon after he sold, carbon emission legislation died in the House of Representatives and the price of the stock dropped to $26 per share. That was one of the two largest stock trades conducted by Whitfield. The other also involved business before Congress. Whitfield's spokesperson told the Post there was no connection between the legislation and the stock transaction.
  • Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., has $42 million to $86 million worth of stock with businesses registered to lobby the senator. He told the Post he has no control of his or his wife Teresa Heinz Kerry's trust.
  • Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Tex., and his wife, Linda Mays, have $5 million to $23 million worth of trades in businesses that lobby the congressman. McCaul told the Post he has no access to his wife's investments and that he doesn't talk to her about them.
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