Rep. Bachus Welcomes Ethics Probe to 'Set Record Straight'
Rep. Spencer Bachus, the chairman of the House committee on Financial Services, today acknowledged that he's the target of an ethics investigation over his market trading, but said he expects the inquiry will clear his name.
"I welcome the opportunity to set the record straight. I respect the congressional ethics process," Bachus, R-Ala., wrote in a statement today. "I have fully abided by the rules governing Members of Congress and look forward to the full exoneration this process will provide."
Bachus, who is serving in his tenth term, is reportedly being investigated for allegedly breaking insider trading laws. Kelly Brewington, the communications director for the OCE, said the office has a policy not to confirm or deny whether it is conducting an investigation.
The Office of Congressional Ethics conducts independent investigations into allegations of misconduct against members, officers and staff. Once the office completes an investigation, a report is forwarded to the ethics committee, which ultimately determines whether a violation has taken place.
Dan Schwager, the chief counsel for the House Ethics committee, declined to comment, writing in an email that "We don't comment on specific matters or allegations."
So far, Bachus has apparently steered clear of publicly irritating the House Republican leadership. A spokeswoman for Majority Leader Eric Cantor said the No. 2 Republican "isn't aware of any investigation and we have no information on the reports."
A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner also declined to comment, telling ABC that the office of the speaker has not been notified of any investigation. "We can't comment on something we have no information about," Michael Steel, spokesman for Speaker Boehner, said. "The OCE has not communicated anything to the Speaker's Office on the matter."
Thursday, the House passed the STOCK Act, which prohibits members of Congress and federal employees from making trades in financial markets based on nonpublic information they have obtained in the course of their congressional work. The bill got a major boost following a CBS broadcast that first revealed Bachus's questionable trades. Bachus voted in favor of the bill.
Bachus is being examined for a series of trades he made in the midst of the financial meltdown. On Sept. 18, 2008, Bachus met privately with then-Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke. Paulson later wrote that the leaders discussed the high possibility of the economy crashing if Congress did not act quickly.
Bachus allegedly acted quickly to execute a series of profitable trades detailed in the book "Throw Them All Out," which was impetus of the CBS "60 Minutes" broadcast.
Bachus has repeatedly denied that he acted on insider knowledge and suggested that someone would have had to have been living under a rock not to know that the economy was failing at the time.