Congressional Staffers Gain From Trading in Stocks

Brody Mullins, Tom McGinty, and Jason Zweig
The Wall Street Journal
10/11/2010

WASHINGTON—Chris Miller nearly doubled his $3,500 stock investment in a renewable-energy firm in 2008. It was a perfectly legal bet, but he’s no ordinary investor.

Mr. Miller is the top energy-policy adviser to Nevada Democrat and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who helped pass legislation that wound up benefiting the firm.

Jim Manley, a spokesman for Mr. Reid’s office, initially defended Mr. Miller’s purchase of shares in the company, Energy Conversion Devices Inc. He said the aide had no influence over tax incentives for renewable-energy firms, and that other factors boosted the stock.

But on Sunday, Mr. Manley added: “Mr. Miller showed poor judgment and Senator Reid has made it very clear to Chris and all his staff that their actions must not only follow the law, but must meet the higher standards the public has a right to expect from elected officials and their staffs.”

Mr. Miller isn’t the only Congressional staffer making such stock bets. At least 72 aides on both sides of the aisle traded shares of companies that their bosses help oversee, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of more than 3,000 disclosure forms covering trading activity by Capitol Hill staffers for 2008 and 2009.

…The aides identified by the Journal say they didn’t profit by making trades based on any information gathered in the halls of Congress. Even if they had done so, it would be legal, because insider-trading laws don’t apply to Congress.

A few lawmakers proposed a bill that would prevent members and employees of Congress from trading securities based on nonpublic information they obtain. The legislation has languished since 2006.

Read the complete article at The Wall Street Journal.

H/T Weasel Zippers

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