Rick's Get Rich Quick Scheme

An investment by U.S. Senate hopeful Rick Lazio in 1997 brought him a profit of up to 600 percent in less than two weeks on securities in a company controlled by some of his biggest contributors, according to published reports.

In August 1997, the Republican congressman spent $2,300 on securities trades in Quick & Reilly, a brokerage, weeks before it was purchased by Fleet Financial Group, The New York Times reported Friday. In what reportedly was Lazio's first foray into high-risk options trading, he unloaded the options for nearly $16,000 on the day Quick & Reilly announced it was being bought by Fleet.

Lazio's profits were reported Sunday in Newsday after a review of financial disclosure forms from 1992 through 1998. Further details were reported Friday in the Times.

Peter Quick and Christopher C. Quick, former senior executives of Quick & Reilly, who along with other company executives have donated at least $35,000 to Lazio's campaigns since 1995, said they had never discussed the company's stock with Lazio.

Some experts in securities law told the Times that Lazio's entry into speculative options trading, coupled with his sizable short-term profit on the deal and his relationship with company executives, might have led to an insider trading investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission, had it been aware of the trades at the time.

There is no indication that Lazio's investments attracted the attention of the SEC at the time. He described the investments in disclosure forms in 1998.

"These are modest investments, and Rick's investment portfolio has returned about 5 to 10 percent, which is quite modest," Lazio spokesman Dan McLagan said. He said Lazio had made "a number of small investments over the years. Some have made money, some have lost money."

Lazio's Senate opponent, Hillary Rodham Clinton, had to respond to reports about controversial investments several years ago. She turned a $1,000 investment in the cattle futures market into nearly $100,000 during a nine-month period in 1978 and 1979, when her husband was attorney general and then governor of Arkansas. She was assisted in her trades by an executive of Tyson Foods, which had extensive business before Arkansas state regulators.

The first lady said in April 1994 that she did not know whether she should have been required to put up more money, but added that she risked far more than her initial $1,000 investment by getting into the market.

Lazio's investment in Quick & Reilly constituted a bet on a company over which he wielded influence because he serves on the House Banking and Commerce Committees, and members of the Quick family had been officers of Wall Street's lobbying arm in Washington.