Potential Congressional Insider Trading during 2008 Bank Bailout


 

I. Introduction

II. Chart of Potential Congressional Insider Trading

III. Article(s) Referenced


I. Introduction

"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... 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...

Many details about the massive financial bailout last fall were widely known outside Capitol Hill. Yet members of the Financial Services Committee were privy to closed-door discussions, staff briefings and political horse-trading decisions between political parties, Congress and the White House."

Stephen Koff and Sabrina Eaton, "Members of U.S. House Financial Services Committee Snapped Up or Dumped Bank Stocks as Bottom Fell Out of Market," Plain Dealer, June 25, 2009

II. Chart of Potential Congressional Insider Trading

Some US Representatives and their trading in bank stocks during the 2008 bank bailouts

Representatives

Bank Stock Bought/Sold

Stock Trade Amount
(and date)
Notes Financial Disclosure Report (FDR)*

1. Judith Biggert (D-IL)

 

Wells Fargo

Spouse sold $1,001-$15,000
(Sep. 19, 2008)
Spouse sold Wells Fargo stock while the financial rescue bill was still in Congress

2008 FDR (519 KB)
2008 FDR Amendment (22 KB)

2. Ginny Brown-Waite  (R-FL)

 

Citigroup

Bought $1,001-$15,000
(Oct. 2, 2008)

On Oct. 3, 2008 President Bush signed into law the financial rescue bill.

2008 FDR (239 KB)
2008 FDR Amendment (232 KB)

Bank of America

Bought $1,001-$15,000
(Oct. 13, 2008)

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson spoke to leading banks on Oct. 13, 2008 about accepting bailout funds.

3. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY)

JP Morgan Chase

Bought $2,275

2008 FDR (4.2 MB)

4. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) 

Citigroup

Sold $100,000
(in several transactions in 2008)

2008 FDR (314 KB)

5. Jackie Speier (D-CA)

Citigroup

Bought $15,000
(Nov. 7, 2008)

On Oct. 29, 2008 Citigroup received $25 billion in rescue funds.

2008 FDR (318 KB)

6. Charlie Wilson (D-OH)

 

Huntington Bancshares

Sold $15,001-$50,000
(Nov. 14, 2008)

On Nov. 14, 2008 Huntington received $1.4 billion from TARP funds.

2008 FDR (631 KB)

*FDRs were obtained from the US House of Representatives Office of the Clerk website

[Editor's Note:  Other Congressional representatives may have also traded bank stocks during the bank bailout period.  Data used in the chart above were gleaned from the article(s) referenced below and the FInancial Disclosure Reports of the Congressional representatives referenced in the chart (and linked in PDF format). Please let us know if there are other Congressional representatives' transactions that should be added to this list.  Investigating each member of Congress to see which ones (including their spouses and dependents) traded stocks in banks during the bank bailout deliberations, and ,if so to what extent, is a project that we would like to do but that we are unable to tackle given our limited resources.


 

III. Article(s) Referenced

"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...

For example, Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, a Florida Republican, bought Citigroup stock valued between $1,001 and $15,000 on Oct. 2, the day before the House passed the financial rescue bill and President George W. Bush signed it into law, records show. She opposed the bill.

Eleven days later, she bought $1,001 to $15,000 worth of Bank of America stock. It was on the same day that then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson told leading banks that he expected them to accept billions in bailout money to prevent a financial meltdown...

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.

Wilson's spokeswoman said the congressman did not personally pick these trades because he leaves day-to-day investment decisions to a money manager who uses a proprietary model in selecting securities to buy or sell...

A spokesman for Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, a New York Democrat also on the Financial Services Committee, said she similarly leaves transactions solely to the discretion of account managers. McCarthy's trades included a $2,275 purchase of bailout recipient J.P. Morgan Chase while Congress was still hammering out its rescue bill.

Another member of the Financial Services Committee, Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier of California, said on a recent financial disclosure report that she bought up to $15,000 in Citigroup stock on Nov. 7. That was 10 days after the bank got a $25 billion bailout.

Her office now says the report was filed in error, the transaction should have been listed as her husband's -- and she wishes he had not made it... Her husband wasn't the only committee spouse trading on bank stocks.

The stockbroker husband of West Virginia's Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican, sold more than $100,000 in Citigroup stock in several transactions late last year. His brokerage firm was owned by Citigroup and his compensation included Citigroup stock. A Capito spokesman said the House Ethics Committee gave her verbal approval to join the committee despite her husband's job.

Another committee member, Illinois Republican Judith Biggert, whose husband sold Wells Fargo stock while Congress was helping to shape the rescue bill, said she does not discuss stock transactions with her spouse." 

Stephen Koff and Sabrina Eaton, "Members of U.S. House Financial Services Committee Snapped Up or Dumped Bank Stocks as Bottom Fell Out of Market," Plain Dealer, June 25, 2009