Politics & Policy

Wait, Isn’t This Why Martha Stewart Went to Prison?

Democrats in Ohio have been attacking their opponents for connections to Wall Street non-stop. And it seems one Ohio Congressman at least has lost credibility on the issue. He is Rep. Charlie Wilson, Democrat of OH-6.

Like most of his party, Wilson voted for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).

Given Wilson’s donors in the financial industry–Citigroup, Hartford, Bank of America, Goldman, Fannie, et. al (via OpenSecrets.org)–this should surprise no one.

However, what makes Wilson an especially egregious example of Democratic hypocrisy regarding Wall Street is what happened after the vote. The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports:

As financial markets tumbled and the government worked to stave off panic by pumping billions of dollars into banks last fall, several members of Congress who oversee the banking industry were grabbing up or dumping bank stocks.[…]

Financial disclosure records show that some of these Financial Services Committee members, including Ohio Rep. Charlie Wilson, made bank stock trades on the same day the banks were getting a government bailout from a program Congress approved. The transactions may not have been illegal or against congressional rules, but securities attorneys and congressional watchdog groups say they raise flags about the appearance of conflicts of interest.

“I don’t think that any of these people should be owning these types of financial instruments,” said Brian Biggins, a Cleveland securities lawyer and former stock brokerage manager. “I’m not saying they shouldn’t be in the stock market. But if they’re on the banking committee and trading in these kinds of stocks, I don’t think that’s right.”[…]

Wilson, a Democrat from the eastern Ohio town of Bridgeport, sold between $15,001 and $50,000 worth of Huntington Bancshares stock on Nov. 14, the same day Huntington got $1.4 billion in bailout money from the federal Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, records show. Wilson’s transactions over the course of last autumn also included Bank of America and BB&T, both beneficiaries of the bank rescue program that Treasury implemented after congressional passage.

That’s right — Wilson voted on the very bill that would make his own stocks profitable, after taking money from the companies he owned those stocks in, and then sold the stocks knowing they would be worth more because of his vote. Gordon Gekko would be proud.

What was that about Republicans being pro-Wall Street and anti-Main Street again?

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