It was quite a night last Sunday to see CBS “60 Minutes” show actually take on a powerful liberal Democrat, none other than California’s Nancy Pelosi, the House Minority Leader, for her self-serving unethical financial behavior. That has usually been reserved for conservative Republicans over the history of the show, regardless of such sizzling reports as bags of $100,000 in cash being discovered in the freezer at former Democrat Congressman William J. Jefferson’s home in Louisiana, news of which never seemed to make the show.
It was also breathtaking for me to see that 60 Minutes built its story around our state’s own Hoover Institution and its’ Scholar Peter Schweizer’s excellent research on insider trading by members of Congress. Peter is a brilliant conservative whom I first met as a young man when we were both associated with Young America’s Foundation. He started writing books at a young age and has built an impressive body of work. It is wonderful to see him hit the really “big time” with an important newsworthy program of national importance.
All that said, since Sunday, Nancy Pelosi has been making statements to the press that are more in denial about her personal financial ethical lapses than Jerry Sandusky’s creepy statements about “just horsing around” with 10 year boys in the Penn State athletic program’s showers.
The claim made against Pelosi is that she bought stock in at least eight initial public offerings (IPOs) of stock while having access to information and some control over legislation that would affect the value of the stock right after the offering, thus allowing her to make a hefty, immediate short term profit immediately after obtaining the stock. In 2008, just one of the stocks was in shares of a credit card company, VISA, a company that was concerned about proposed “pro-consumer” legislation that would regulate their activities. Pelosi’s profit alone in this stock rose $100,000 in just two days after she purchased it, and the legislation VISA was concerned about never made it to the floor of the House in that session, where Pelosi was Speaker of the House and controlled what bills were brought forward for a vote.
Two days after the 60 Minutes piece aired, Pelosi fired back, as reported by a generally sympathetic San Francisco Chronicle, her hometown newspaper, that the show “omitted key information” and was a “right wing smear.” Of course it boggles the mind that the words “60 Minutes” and “right wing smear” would ever appear in the same sentence, let alone coming from the lips of press hack Drew Hammill, one of Rahn Emanuel’s protege’s, for liberal Pelosi. 60 Minutes is hardly a member of the “vast right wing conspiracy” that a younger Hillary Clinton used to rail about. The fact that they based a segment of a show around research generated by conservative Schweizer, who holds a Master’s Degree in Philosophy from Oxford University and has written seven or eight books, including one that the New York Times called “the best” of the books on the Bush family, hardly supports a claim of a “right wing smear.” In fact, Schweizer’s credibility and the other politicians the show picked-on proves the opposite. And frankly, it is about time that the main stream media started giving more recognition to some of the excellent work of “deep thinkers” at institution’s like Hoover, which house many Peter Schweizer’s under their roofs. “Right wing smear?” The show I saw focused even more on claims against Republicans, not just Pelosi. But most telling is Pelosi’s own first reaction, which was to do her own smear job against her detractors, and her failure to also own up to the fact that she made a bundle of money in a short period of time based on her insider knowledge and powerful position, in which she could control and contain the very legislation that would hurt her investment in the short term.
Now Pelosi’s argument has turned to self-congratulation about how pro-consumer she is and that “Congress never passed more critical reforms of the credit card industry than under the (former) Speakership of Nancy Pelosi.” My reaction? Well, she definitely DID NOT pass that legislation when it mattered to her personally in those two days after her IPO investment. And even Benito Mussolini saw it was in his interest to make the trains run on time.
Congress needs to adopt laws that they impose on the rest of us. Many years ago the House bank was reformed so Members of Congress couldn’t bounce checks without consequences like the rest of America. So too should Members of Congress not be able to trade off their insider knowledge to personally profit on their control and knowledge of proposed legislation. Pelosi should join Republican Congressman Spencer Bachus, also a target of the story, in holding hearings on this issue and enacting new legislation preventing it in future. For once in her political life, she should stop smearing and blaming conservative Republicans for her own mistakes, and have the decency to say to us that like all God’s children, nobody is perfect, including Nancy Pelosi.