Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL), who was cleared by the Office of Congressional Ethics of insider trading charges, is now busy collecting donations for his legal defense fund from the banking interests who stand to benefit most from his influence on the powerful House Financial Services Committee.
Bachus has spent $422,000 in legal fees from his campaign account, and an additional $209,000 from his legal expense trust. According to Politico, “the bulk of Bachus’s legal defense fund take came from corporations and PACs with ties to Alabama, including Mortgage America, Inc., Bryant Bank, and Citizens Bancorp of Winfield, Inc.”
It’s precisely that brand of cynicism and cronyism that led Andrew Breitbart to be the first to call for Spencer Bachus to resign. Likewise, the Tea Party opposed Bachus during the Republican primary after the Alabama Republican bizarrely lashed out at Sarah Palin and the Tea Party in the wake of the historic 2010 midterm elections.
As Throw Them All Out and 60 Minutes reported, Bachus’s options trading records during the summer and fall of the 2008 debates over the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) show a pattern of well-timed trades that resulted in as much as $50,000 in capital gains from July to November 2008. Bachus’s position as the then-Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee gave him access to high-level private meetings and phone conversations with then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and other top senior officials.
Now, with Bachus scrambling to have his special interest cronies cover his legal debts, Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) and House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) have both given Bachus $5,000 each through their PACS.
Such actions undermine the Republican Party’s claims that it is committed to fighting cronyism and corruption. Partisanship should never override principle. That’s why Andrew Breitbart called for Spencer Bachus’s resignation. And it’s also the reason that nothing in Washington will change until we tear cronyism and self-dealing out root and branch.