Senatorial Privilege? Sen. Dick Durbin Cashed Out His Stocks and Shares After Meeting With Paulson and Bernanke on Economic Crisis

225px-Richard_Durbin_official_photoSen. Dick Durbin, the second most senior democrat in the Senate, cashed out his stock the day after meeting with Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. Durbin took the money and invested much of the $115,000 in Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

The transfers occurred on Sept. 19th. The prior day he met with Paulson and Bernanke on the banking crisis. Bloomberg reports that “The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index plunged 4.7 percent last Sept. 15 after the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and Bank of America Corp.’s government-engineered takeover of Merrill Lynch & Co. By the end of October, the index had fallen 22.6 percent.”

I have long advocated a change in the ethics rules to require blind trusts for all members of Congress. Currently, members can make killings on the market by using their access to policy changes and special tips. For prior columns, click here and here.

Durbin, 66, insists that he was only doing what other people were doing: moving his money to safer investments. Moreover, he insists that the thrust of the information that he received from the Administration was released publicly the next day. This may be so. However, as noted in the above columns, senators have performed better than industry experts in the the past and the suspicion is that their success is due in some part to the special information that they received through their positions. More importantly, these trades and investments create an obvious appearance of self-dealing. Why should Senators (who generally have no skills or training in the market) insist on making these investments instead of using an expert in a blind trust? They obviously believe that they can do better — and historically they have. The result is that members routinely invest in areas where they are voting and legislating. If you want to write the laws affecting the markets, you should not be allowed to play the markets.

For the story, click here.

97 thoughts on “Senatorial Privilege? Sen. Dick Durbin Cashed Out His Stocks and Shares After Meeting With Paulson and Bernanke on Economic Crisis”

  1. Now now boys before you all go jump on the Short Guy bandwagon, let’s take a moment to consider that Napoleon fellow.

    I’m just sayin’ . . .

  2. Whollie wrote:

    “Should have gone with the short guys.”

    Yes, we should go with the short guys with the statuesque brains and the big ears because they think and listen.

  3. Obama’s carrying on Bush’s mass murder in illegal wars makes;

    “Barack Obama – Mass Murderer”

    By Dan Spielberg

    “The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right names” ~ Chinese Proverb

    “The Chinese proverb that opens this piece is true in all times and places, so let’s call Mr. Obama by his real names: Wall Street Stooge, Zionist lickspittle, National Socialist, liar and above all, mass murderer.”

  4. lotta,

    I may have agreed with your Carter End Run analysis back in the day, but from what I’ve seen from the man since his time in office really makes me lean on the “no stomach” stance. It’s not that he’s not smart, hell no, I’m not going to challenge that, but I just think he’s so non-confrontational in his methodology in everything else that is seems likely his lack of aggression in tackling Congress, rationale or not, is more rooted in his basic personality. He’d have tried to find as smooth a road to resolution no matter what composition he’d have been faced with in Congress. He’s addicted to the “win-win”. I could be wrong, but that’s the kind of guy Carter strikes me as being.

  5. Jill wrote: I think Kucinich should run under the ELF party, as he does look like an elf– he should go with it.

    The hurdle for a “short” President with big ears in the White House is probably greater than the glass ceiling hurdle. He could have increased his chances by letting his wife first run for president and himself for vice-president.

    An earlier short candidate, Ross “The Boss” Perot, in my opinion made perhaps the most prescient statement ever about NAFTA: “the giant sucking sound” of American jobs heading south of the border.

    Should have gone with the short guys.

  6. BuelahMan
    1, June 16, 2009 at 10:00 pm
    What is nuts about Kucinich? Or Paul (other than he refuses to acknowledge evolution)?
    Nothing about Kucinich is nuts- I was not clear in that regard. Even a quickly pulled together 3rd party with a candidate that was to my liking (Kucinich aside) no matter how non-mainstream could get my vote.

    I have heard Paul speak and read his website during the campaign. He advocated the reduction of the federal government to the point that it was an abdication of the basic responsibilities of a central government. IMO. I characterize that as nuts even though he had a couple of positions I could agree with.

    I thought Gravel was a better candidate than Paul in that he had more positions that I could find agreement with but I considered them both fringe.

  7. Beulah,

    This election was the first and only time I voted for the lesser of the two evils. I’m not one to vote based on fear, but McCain with the Football was one of my foremost considerations. I also will say that President Obama’s platform wasn’t that far off from my views.

    My point wasn’t to hash and rehash the same leftover phrases from every discussion about what’s wrong with the American system, most of us know what that meal tastes like. I’m honestly at a loss as to how to change the system (short of armed rebellion, no-one would win that war). The best I’ve been able to come up with is start locally and work nationally (which I think is the mistake most “third parties” make, is they try the opposite). Even if that strategy were to work, you’re still facing Duverger’s law. Further more, how do we convince people that control the media, campaign rules, and most of the money that is spent on politics to change the rules to not favor themselves?

  8. Buddha Is Laughing
    1, June 16, 2009 at 10:35 am

    I agree the obstructionists in Congress would have tried to Carter him, but I think Kucinich has something Carter didn’t: a stomach for a fight.


    I think Carter was smart. He saw how it was going to go and looked for a way to do the job in areas that had less Congressional control than domestic policy. Presidents have a lot of latitude in foreign policy. I think Carter just saw the future 3 years for what they would be and decided an end run around Congress could be productive.

  9. What is nuts about Kucinich? Or Paul (other than he refuses to acknowledge evolution)?

  10. Personally, I feel like Carter was a better president (and Clinton, as well). But they are all of the same basic Big Money owned cloth.

    Barack Obama is as bad as most Republicans, Bush notwithstanding.

    You are loyal and that is too bad. He has fooled you and you seem to refuse to acknowledge that.

    Did you notice me calling you on the things you look for and suggesting that Obama has none of those things.

    Can you tell me that he has met any of your qualifications? Some of them? All of them?

  11. Jill
    1, June 16, 2009 at 3:52 pm
    I think Kucinich should run under the ELF party, as he does look like an elf– he should go with it. This could be the Economic Liberation Front or the Economic and Legal Freedom Party!

    🙂 Jill, as I’ve said elsewhere: evil, you’re pure evil 🙂 I love it, ROFLMFAO.

    I’ve written in Kucinich and Carter for president on more than one ballot. I was going to write in Kucinich right up to the time I was sitting in my car thinking about it at my polling place in ’08. McCain/Palin scared the s*** out of me, more specifically, that SP could end up as President. I’ve voted my conscience on a number of occasions and would vote for a third party- even the ELF party, if the candidate wasn’t nuts. I put Paul into the ‘nuts’ category.

  12. “This is the most backward country in the world with the least amount of freedom.”

    This is hyperbole to say the least. The truth is that you know it is hyperbole, but are making the statement out of your anger with all that is not happening, that should. I’ll take America over for instance, Indonesia, India, China, England, France, Germany, Russia, etc. Perhaps Sweden is better, but I don’t think they’re into immigration, nor is a personal favorite of mine Denmark. I like Holland because of the sexual openness and legal marijuana, but they have been having a lot of immigrant problems of late. Face it, there are not many places where the needs of the people override the needs of the elite.

  13. “With that being said you cant dispute the fact that this is the best, most free country in the world.”

    I don’t really disagree with you. I don’t believe that there are any countries in this world that are truly democratic, free and not run by monied elites and corporations. No countries that I know of are run for the benefit of their people, rather than for a small percentage of the country’s “haves.” I love America and love being an American.

    Nevertheless, with all that said, we are not a republic or a democracy. We are controlled by an oligarchy of mutual interests that use their wealth to control our citizens and our politicians. That we have it better in some things then the rest of the world, does not mean that this country has lived up to its Constitution or the hopes of its founders. It simply hasn’t been a government or country that has acted in the best interests of most of its’ people. This needs to be changed and it needs to be changed by people getting beyond the old left/right ways of thinking and learning to
    see it’s not the politics. The solution is making the government responsive to the needs of all of the people, rather than just a few wealthy ones.

  14. Chris:

    This is the most backward country in the world with the least amount of freedom.

    We have low taxes, no national health care, an oppressive military, the right to bear arms, college education is not free to anyone, we have property rights, the constitution is a constant irritation, and many other things that limit our freedom from want.

    And if that weren’t enough I cant go and bash my neighbor on the head and take his property by force. That would be competing with our government.

  15. Mike,
    More than anyone on this site I respect your ability to disagree with people civilly and avoid personal attacks. With that being said you cant dispute the fact that this is the best, most free country in the world.

  16. BuelahMan,
    So which President in your lifetime was better? JFK died to quick to know, but did attack Cuba and up the ante in Viet Nam.
    LBJ enacted the War on poverty and the civil Rights Act, but brought new brutality to the Viet Nam War, which he knew from early on couldn’t be won. Too many people died because of him because he refused to quit. Jimmy Carter, was totally ineffective. Bill Clinton, was and is a corporatist. I’m assuming you find none of the Republicans up to snuff.

    President Obama, faced with a corporate led financial crisis has done the best he can, given the control of congress by the corporatists of all stripes. He is trying to move health care into the mainstream of concern. He is working on winding down Iraq, but needs to do more on Afghanistan and Pakistan. These are foreign policy issues of long standing and despite any wish for a magic wand America in not easily or safely disentangled. He has pushed understanding that global warming is a major issue. He has shown a desire to deal with unemployment and entwined energy independence with economic opportunity. He has presented a clear cut policy on the Israel/Arab conundrum. That’s just a part of what he’s done in just five months.

    The specifics and rapidity of pace on any of these issues may displease you, but who else really could have done more?
    Kucinich, please. He’s a good man, but they would already be moving to impeach him and there would be billion$ invested in getting that job done. This is the reality of this country. You and I may not like it, but it exists. In my 64 years I’ve spent too much time in baying at the moon politically. I’m not quitting, but I think new tactics are in order. One of them is being satisfied in small victory’s as one presses for moving the line further. What I see presented here, by many I respect, is that they are expecting much more from any President than is humanly deliverable given our system and then decrying them when they don’t deliver. Many may call it honesty, but I call it self-fulfilling prophecy, that ignores recognition what most of you already know about this country and this world. It is
    O as in Oligarchy and that is not easily dispatched with.

  17. While I’ve personally known far too many Marxists to be interested in that type of political theory, I nonetheless have certain core beliefs that place me out of the American mainstream politically. I believe in governmental control of corporations; universal health care; the right to have decent shelter; the right to have wherewithal for food and clothing; the right to free education through and beyond college; a truly progressive tax system; the Bill of Rights and the imperative need for a legal system that is fair to everyone; the end of of the concept of American hegemony, prejudice (racial/ethnic and sexual) and a humane foreign policy. That was not in any particular order of importance and certain not all of what I believe in.

    And in that one paragraph I can find not a single instance that Obama could possibly have made you feel like he was with you.

    I doubt that he agrees with a single issue of yours (and I do, btw), yet he is the best POTUS you have seen?

    Dear God.

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