Your Lawmaker Getting Rich off of Insider Trading?

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There's a time-honored saying in Washington politics: Follow the money.

Today it appears that lawmakers from both parties are making money from a kind of legal insider trading that, for the ordinary American citizen, would mean jail time. 

Two years ago, when Congress debated the Obama administration's health care overhaul, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., had a lead role in shaping the legislation.

At the same time, he and his family were investing heavily in health care stocks.

When California Democrat Nancy Pelosi was House speaker in 2008, she got preferred treatment to invest in a credit card company at the same time Congress was considering credit card legislation.

Another former House speaker, Republican Dennis Hastert, returned to his home state of Illinois after making millions on a land deal that involved a congressional earmark.

Peter Schweizer, author of the book Throw Them All Out, says many Americans would be shocked to know such actions, when done by lawmakers, are perfectly legal.

Schweizer noted that if Martha Stewart were a U.S. senator, she would never have done jail time.

"If you were a corporate executive and there was a pattern of stock behavior linked to inside information and you just told the SEC, 'I don't do it,' the SEC wouldn't just walk away," Schweizer told CBS's "60 Minutes."

"The SEC would actually look and investigate and see if there is a link," he said.

"And that's what I think is troubling here," he concluded. "The SEC simply doesn't have the authority or the power to go in and look and see."

Peter Schweizer talked more about what he views as Congress's dirty dealing on "The 700 Club," Nov. 21. Click play for that interview.

--Originally aired November 21, 2011.

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John Waage has covered politics and analyzed elections for CBN News since 1980, including primaries, conventions, and general elections. 

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