9 August 2018
Cogito Ergo Non Serviam
Congressman Chris Collins (R-NY) was arrested and arraigned yesterday for his part in an insider trading scandal. While this journal is militant about the presumption of innocence, this is just another affair in which the currently available information suggests that the Republican Party has not only failed to drain the swamp, to rid Washington of corruption, but also it has contributed even further to the sense that a large segment of the population there is on the take.
The allegations against Congressman Collins are straight forward. Innate Immunotherapeutics, a biopharmaceutical company for which he serves on the board of directors, had a drug fail a clinical trial. As a director, he received an email in advance of the announcement to the public. Within minutes of receiving the news, he is alleged to have phoned his son and his son's future father-in-law, who in turn called others. Those people sold their stock before the announcement, classic insider trading by which they avoided almost $800,000 in losses. In his defense, the congressman didn't trade and took about $17 million in losses, cutting his net worth down from $60 million.
However, the government's case will rest on phone and trading records, and if the FBI had enough on the people involved to arrest a congressman, his defense attorney will have his work cut out for him.
Mr. Collins, though, is just one in a long line of Republican politicians whose financial actions look bad, even if there is no criminality involved. In addition to him, there is the former head of the EPA Scott Pruitt, who insisted on flying first class because people in coach might be mean to him and spent on his office like a drunken sailor.
Also breaking in the last day or two are allegations made in Forbes magazine (which is so pro-corporate America that it proudly calls itself a Capitalist Tool) against Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. Mr. Ross is worth something like $700 million, and the Forbes article says he has misappropriated as much as $120 million from business partners and corporations with which he has had dealings.
All of this occurs in the shadow of the president and the Trump organization. By staying at his own resorts, the president is forcing the Secret Service to pay for rooms at the resorts for the people protecting him. He financially benefits from his hotels where foreign governments choose to house their people while on official business, probably in violation of the Constitution's emoluments clause.
Now, the Republicans can fire back on the ethics of some Democrats. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) recently beat a bribery rap, but his general election opponent is making commercials that say the senator was "indicted by the Obama Justice Department."
However, the argument that the other side does it as well holds little water when a main part of the president's campaign, and much of his appeal, was that he would put an end to pay to play and the snouts in the DC trough. The obvious truth is that the Republicans have not cleaned up Washington and have not even tried in the year and a half they have controlled both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.
This will only deepen the sense among some voters that there is not a dime's worth of difference between the two parties. That group will become apathetic and cease voting, will start fringe parties or will simply vote against the incumbents in each and every election. It may not become apparent in the mid-terms this November, when turn out is minimal, but by 2020, anti-corruption is going to be a bigger issue, and it may harm Republicans most because they have the White House. If they keep the Senate and the House, it will be even worse for them in 2020, while the Democrats can launch an ant-corruption drive if they capture part of Congress, which might immunize them. Then again, it might not.
© Copyright 2018 by The Kensington Review, Jeff Myhre, PhD, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent. Produced using Ubuntu Linux.