Blind Trust

Sketchy Senate Stock Sales


cjones03262020

Insider trading is trading in the stock market on confidential information. It’s not just frowned upon or a no-no. It’s illegal.  It’s especially worse when done by elected officials because they’re supposed to use classified information to help the country, not help themselves.

Several senators are being accused of insider trading after dumping stocks before the coronavirus pandemic. Each senator’s defense has been, “I didn’t do it while I was doing it.” Republican Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina is the worst offender.

Burr dumped holdings worth between $628,000 and $1.7 million in 33 separate transactions on February  13, around the same time he, as Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, was receiving daily briefings on the coronavirus, and after he publicly projected, in an Op-Ed for Fox News, confidence in the economy and the nation’s response to the virus. Nothing to worry about folks as he rushes to the bank to withdraw all his money. What Burr did was basically sell everything he owned. He sold, sold, sold, and didn’t buy any stocks to replace them.

Burr has denied any wrongdoing and stated he based his decisions on public news reports. How does that work? You pretend to forget what you learned from classified briefings and only retain what Wolf Blitzer told you? Keep in mind, Burr is a Republican so he totally expects people to believe grade-A bullshit.

Burr has asked the Senate Ethics Committee to conduct a review of the transaction to prove his innocence. Maybe before he unloaded a bunch of stocks right after being briefed on an incoming pandemic, he should have asked himself, “Is this something that would be investigated?”

Kelly Loeffler is a Republican senator from Georgia. She sold off between $1.3 million and $3.1 million worth of stock she owned with her husband, Jeffrey Sprecher, who just so happens to be chair of the New York Stock Exchange. She started selling her shit the same day, January 24, the Senate Health Committee, of which she’s a member of, hosted briefing on the coronavirus. Loeffler made 29 equities transactions, 27 were sales. One of her two purchases was a company called Citrix, which makes teleworking software, a product now in high demand. Hmmm….a senator who’s married to the Chair of the New Stock Exchange dumping stocks after classified briefings…sure. Nothing smells here.

Loeffler claims all stock decisions are not made by her or her husband, but by a third party, which many say is a blind trust. There really isn’t anything to stop someone who has a blind trust from interjecting themselves to make decisions. When politicians says they have a blind trust, all they have is their word that they’re not involved. Donald Trump’s “blind trust” is operated by his two idiot sons. If you believe Donald Trump doesn’t receive updates or still makes business decisions, then I have a bankrupted Atlantic City casino I’d like to sell you.

Oklahoma Republican Senator Jim Inhofe, who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, sold $750,000 worth of stock. He said it was related to a “continuing divestiture plan.” Whatever.

California Democrat Senator Diane Feinstein, who is the ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, sold off millions in stocks. She said all those decisions were made by her husband without her input.

It’s hard to pin insider trading on members of Congress, but it does happen. Recently, Republican Chris Collins, who was a congressman from New York, was sentenced to 23 months for insider trading.

Burr’s actions have infuriated Democrats and Republicans. Tucker Carlson has demanded his resignation, apparently confident that a Republican would win his seat in a special election in North Carolina. Tucker’s motives aren’t really that pure. He’s still upset that Burr signed off on a subpoena for Donald Trump Jr. to testify about that Trump Tower meeting with Russians. But, despite Tucker believing Burr should resign, Burr should resign.

Even if there’s nothing shady going on here, it doesn’t look good for senators to be dumping stocks right before a pandemic hits, causing a recession and forcing millions to lose their jobs. And to fully understand it better, you need to see what was sold off, what was bought, and the timing. Are Senators dumping stock in cruise lines and hotels? Are they making purchases in medicine and communication? And while we’re on the subject, is Donald Trump going to get a bailout for his bedbug hotels?

A much simpler way to deal with members of Congress and stocks is to pass legislation Senator Elizabeth Warren introduced in 2018 that would prohibit them from owning individual stocks. In a speech at the time, Warren said, “They can put their savings in conflict-free investments like mutual funds, or they can pick a different line of work.”

Would that pass? Hell no. We have a Senate run by Republicans who won’t demand that Donald Trump sell off his businesses. Remember, Jimmy Carter sold his peanut farm when he became president. Despite it being illegal to profit from the office, the Senate and the Justice Department refuse to stop Donald Trump from violating the Constitution’s emoluments clause. Donald Trump isn’t just taking money from foreign governments on the sly, he announced plans to do so with his Miami resort for the G7 Summit before backing off after much criticism.

Trump’s Doral club being the best location for an international summit of world leaders is about as much of a coincidence as these senators selling stocks after classified briefings.

I agree with Senator Warren that they should all find a different line of work. I’m thinking as workers in a prison cafeteria.

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Blind Trust


cjones11172016

One of my newspaper clients is the New York Observer. They have been with me for a while and have been a very good client. They communicate with me occasionally, they don’t badger about my subjects, and they pay their bill. I really hate to call them out but they’re owned by Jared Kushner. Mr. Kushner is Donald Trump’s son-in-law. In case you haven’t noticed yet, I have drawn a few cartoons on Mr. Kushner’s dad-in-law, the next president of the United States. In addition to Mr. Kushner their editor once wrote a book and campaign speeches with Rudy Giuliani, potentially our next Secretary of State.

I’ve read a few columns in the Observer critical of Trump, though I doubt they’re going to run my cartoons of their owner’s in-laws and the owner himself. We’ll see. But this issue may be recurring if Mr. Kushner ends up working in the White House.

Most politicians put all their finances into a blind trust upon being elected to office. Donald Trump says he will do the same and have his children, Ivanka, Eric, and Donald Jr., run his corporation. That is not a blind trust.

In fact, there really isn’t such a thing as a blind trust as anyone at anytime can bark at whoever’s handling their finances to find out what’s going on with their money. But politicians hand off all their investments to someone else to at least give the impression that they’re not profiting financially with their office as if they’re the governor of Louisiana or New Jersey.

Trump handing off his company to his children is the same as you letting your kid drive your car. Occasionally you’re going to know what’s going on with your car and eventually find out what that disgusting stain is in the backseat. This gets a little more complicated since we don’t know anything about Trump’s investments. Does he have holdings in Turkey, Russia, or Yemen? Does he owe any of these entities money? So how much is Donald separated from his business when his daughter is running it and her husband, my client, is working alongside him in the White House advising him how best to round up Muslims and Mexicans?

In addition, Kushner has been accused of using his position with Trump to oust his political enemies from the transition team. New Jersey governor Chris Christie was leading the transition team but in years past he sent Kushner’s father to prison. I guess when someone puts your father in prison you might feel some sort of way about that. Christie is no longer leading that team. I guess he burned that bridge (sorry. I couldn’t help myself).

Can you imagine the outcry if Hillary Clinton had engaged in such nepotism?

On top of all this how are we supposed to trust Trump with transparency when he’s sneaking out in the middle of the night without alerting the press pool so he can go to a steak house? Is he afraid they’ll mock him for ordering it extra well done with ketchup?

Rudy Giuliani is apparently the front runner to become Secretary of State. Giuliani has earned millions working for foreign governments and even gave a speech to an Iranian group on the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations. Can you imagine the outcry if Hillary Clinton had paid chats with terrorist organizations?

Looking at how Trump is stocking his office with creatures from the swamp he wants to drain, appointing a white nationalist as his chief strategist, inserting Rudy into the State Department, and giving his family security clearance, I have a not-so-bold prediction. Trump’s administration is going to rival those of Nixon, Reagan, Grant, and Harding, as the most corrupt ever.

And you never know. When Trump cracks down on the media who’s to say Kushner won’t mention the cartoonist who keeps giving his boss “booty lips?”

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