Sen. Joseph Lieberman, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, disagrees with Sarah Palin on whether there is proof that members of Congress are engaged in insider trading. But the independent senator from Connecticut agrees with her conclusion that legislative action on the issue is needed.
“I don’t have any evidence that there is insider trading by members of Congress,” Senator Lieberman said Tuesday at a breakfast for reporters hosted by the Monitor. But he acknowledged that in the wake of Peter Schweizer’s book, “Throw Them All Out,” and a "60 Minutes" segment on the subject, “a lot of people around the country including my constituents … think there is.”
One such person is Republican political icon Sarah Palin. In an op-ed Tuesday in USA Today, the former Alaska governor said that thanks to Mr. Schweizer's book and the "60 Minutes" story, “we have concrete proof” to explain how members of Congress “accumulate wealth at a rate astonishingly faster than the rest of Americans and have stock portfolios that outperform even the best hedge-fund managers.”
Palin charged that "the methods of unethical wealth accumulation for our permanent political class are endless."
Earlier this month, Lieberman’s committee held hearings on alleged congressional insider trading and whether members of Congress are subject to insider trading rules, which forbid the use of nonpublic information for personal gain.
“After the hearing our committee held on this subject, it was my conclusion listening to three law professors that there is a definite ambiguity in the law,” Lieberman said. At the present time, he said, “a court might not hold that a member of Congress or a staff member is covered by the insider trading laws.”
At the breakfast, Lieberman said, “I think it is very important that Congress make clear with legislative action that members of Congress and staff are covered by insider trading” laws. In her USA Today piece, Palin also called for congressional action.
Lieberman said his committee would work Wednesday on a compromise bill incorporating legislation drafted by Sen. Scott Brown (R) of Massachusetts and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D) of New York. Lieberman said that after the committee works on the bill he expected to “report it out to the [Senate] floor.”
Palin called the Brown and Gillibrand legislation “particularly weak” in her USA Today article. For example, Brown’s legislation would require members of Congress to report on stock trades within 90 days. Palin would like the reporting to be immediate and would require members to place their assets in blind trusts.