The Washington Times - December 1, 2011, 04:25PM

Capitol Hill insider trading hearings began today in Washington to examine legislation that would ban lawmakers from trading on private information they became privy to through their activities on the hill. 

Following a “60 Minutes” report, based on a book by Peter Schweizer about D.C. politicians who, through legal means, financially benefit by using insider information from their legislative work, a storm of criticism rained down upon Congress members for being immune to the legal ramifications of insider trading laws like other Americans would be. 

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House Speaker John Boehner, Ohio Republican, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, were among members of Congress profiled in the 60 Minutes piece that aired two weeks ago. Mr. Boehner 

While it was reported earlier by several outlets that Leader Pelosi supports legislation that would ban lawmakers from using insider information from hill activities to financially benefit them, Speaker Boehner responded to my question on the issue this way: 

“Well I think having hearings is the right thing to do. As I’ve made clear, I’ve never been involved in the last decade or two in any day-to-day discussions about my stock trades. The ethics committee this week outlined for the members that the use of private information for their own financial benefit is against the rules of the House and outlined pretty clearly what those rules are.”

“In addition to that, I think the SEC has pretty clear rules. And so I think the hearings are a step in the right direction to determine if there’s a need for such a bill to act to move. We’ll let those hearings proceed.”

As a result of both Mr. Schweizer’s book and the “60 Minutes” piece, the House Stock Act, introduced by Rep. Louise Slaughter, New York Democrat, and once unknown bill starving for support, now has about 100 co-sponsors. A similar bill introduced by Sen. Scott Brown, Massachusetts Republican, was proposed in the upper chamber.