Paul Ryan falsely was accused today by left-wing bloggers, most notably Matthew Yglesias (formerly of Think Progress now of Slate), of insider trading based on confidential information provided by the Treasury Secretary to Congress on September 18, 2008.
That day, Ryan traded Citigroup stock.
The accusation fell apart when someone noticed that the congressional meeting was in the evening of September 18, after the markets closed and Ryan already had completed his trades. Yglesias issued a retraction, and even New York Magazine defended Ryan on the charge of insider trading (which at the time would have been legal for members of Congress).
If Yglesias and the rest of the left-blogosphere want to chase someone for insider trading based solely on the timing of trades around the September 18 congressional briefing, then they need look no further than their hero Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), as I detailed on November 19, 2011, Sheldon Whitehouse, luckiest investor in America?
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island also made a flurry of trades in the days after the Paulson-Bernanke meeting with legislators.
At minimum, Whitehouse sold $250,000 in the stocks below between September 18-24, 2008. He may have sold as much as $600,000 in the stock below according to disclosures.
As I noted at the time, Whitehouse denied that he directed the trading:
Whitehouse spokesman Seth Larson dismissed the book’s accusations, saying the senator is not actively involved in managing the investment fund in question.
Whitehouse “neither directed his financial advisor to undertake any transaction during that time, nor ever took advantage of any exclusive or secret information,” Larson said in an email.
I always found this explanation a little too cute with the terminology. Whether or not Whitehouse “directed” the trades, there are unanwered questions as to how Whitehouse’s money manager had such good timing, whether the money manager traded in similar patterns for other clients, and whether Whitehouse had any communications of any nature with the money manager in the time frame.
It wasn’t only the trading near the time of the market crash which raised questions, Whitehouse also had really lucky timing on the sale of Amgen stock:
I don’t know that Sheldon Whitehouse traded on inside congressional information, but the timing is a lot more suspicious than that of Paul Ryan.
It’s time for Whitehouse to release all the records and make the money manager available for questioning.
It’s also time for the Ryan-haters to realize they wished to hard for something, and now they have it.