Structural fault lines in the political system
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Readers may recall that we discussed a Financial Times op ed by University of Massachusetts professor of political sciences and favorite Naked Capitalism curmudgeon Tom Ferguson which described a particularly sordid aspect of American politics: an explicit pay to play system in Congress. Congresscritters who want to sit on influential committees, and even more important, exercise leadership roles, are required to kick in specified amounts of money into their party’s coffers. That in turn increases the influence of party leadership, since funds provided by the party machinery itself are significant in election campaigning.
Why aren’t congressional members required to put all of their stock holdings into a blind trust? Why can’t insider trading by Congressional members be banned?
Martha Stewart went to jail for it.
“Send me a bill that bans insider trading by members of Congress,” President Obama told the assembled members of the House and Senate in his State of the Union address last week, “and I will sign it tomorrow.” If only it were that simple. The Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act, a bill that prohibits legislators and federal officials from knowingly profiting off of nonpublic information related to impending legislation and regulatory decisions, looks certain to pass the Senate this week.
Sometimes a story breaks that leads to jaw dropping even among the normally jaded.
The Office of Congressional Ethics, an independent investigative agency, opened its probe late last year after focusing on numerous suspicious trades on Bachus’s annual financial disclosure forms, the individuals said. OCE investigators have notified Bachus that he is under investigation and that they have found probable cause to believe insider-trading violations have occurred. (Washington Post investigation: Capitol Assets)
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The following op-ed, co-written by HLS Professor Lawrence Lessig and Daily Beast contributor Mark McKinnon , appeared in the Apr. 6 edition of the online publication. by Mark McKinnon and Lawrence Lessig Washington is hopelessly addicted to money and thus to the status quo; drunk with power and incapable of getting sober and fixing itself.
Here we go again.
After months of Republican presidential debates, a rollercoaster ride of frontrunners and primaries and caucuses, it may come as a surprise to some that there are more than four GOP candidates running for the White House. Former Louisiana Congressman and Governor Buddy Roemer announced last summer that he would be seeking the Republican nomination to unseat President Barack Obama. Although he has received a tremendous following from individuals who are apolitical and feel disenfranchised with the current two-party system, Roemer has been unable to gain national momentum.
Money in politics..