At an event Wednesday in Rock Hill, South Carolina, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich drew applause from the crowd when he called the congressional insider trading scandal uncovered by Breitbart editor Peter Schweizer and a report by 60 Minutes a “good example of a bipartisan mess.”
Mr. Gingrich said he favored a law requiring members of Congress to place all their assets in a blind trust and to submit to a three day reporting requirement on any and all investments. Although the former Speaker of the House did not refer to it by name, a bill proposed by freshman Congressman Sean Duffy (R-WI) called the RESTRICT (Restoring Ethical Standards, Transparency, and Responsibility in Congressional Trading) Act would do precisely as Mr. Gingrich proposes.
As the Wall Street Journal reports:
Mr. Gingrich said it is wrong for lawmakers to be able to buy and sell stocks based on information they learn in their government jobs. He laid part of the blame on campaign finance rules that favor wealthier candidates for Congress who can afford to pay for their own elections. As a result of those rules, a larger share of lawmakers in both parties come to Congress with extensive financial portfolios.
Mr. Gingrich’s recent statements echo those he made in November when he declared his support for applying the same insider trading laws that apply to private citizens to members of Congress.
Mr. Gingrich’s comments Wednesday in South Carolina come on the heels of an op-ed published last week by Gov. Rick Perry declaring his intention to “stop insider trading dead in its tracks.” And last Thursday, Gov. Mitt Romney sharpened his attack on “crony capitalism.”
Some political analysts have suggested that the congressional insider trading issue represents a prime opportunity to coalesce Tea Party support around a unifying message against crony capitalism. Gauging from the GOP presidential candidates’ comments on the issue heading into the all-important South Carolina primary, they appear to agree.