D.C.

Trades made by members of Congress leave many wondering

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Many are wondering what lawmakers knew about the meltdown of the financial markets following a Washington Post investigation, which showed a dozen lawmakers protected their own assets well before the public knew a financial crisis was coming. Among those politicians is House Speaker John Boehner.

Monday, members of Congress strongly denied any wrongdoing, but experts ABC7 spoke with say if not illegal, the trades were at least highly improper. Voters agree.

Alexandria resident Bruce Burton said, "It, it looks bad. It looks very bad."

"We are in economic, hard economic times and so to have one population, you know, benefit and be protected and the others are not...it's egregious definitely," Bowie resident Red Jackson added.

The Washington Post found at least 34 members of Congress made changes to their stock portfolios following hundreds of phone calls and briefings from key Bush officials. At least 166 trades were made within 48 hours of confidential briefings about the unfolding financial crisis.

The investigation found Boehner moved money out of risky mutual funds to safer stock on the same day he was briefed by the treasury department.

Democrat Kent Conrad, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, Democrat Barney Frank, chair of the powerful Ways and Means Committee and Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell also made stack trades.

Malanie Sloan heads Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and has long advocated blind trusts be required for members of Congress.

"Members are always loathed to pass new rules that have a negative impact on themselves. They, they, never want to subject themselves to more stringent rules," Sloan claimed.

Congress recently passed the Stock Act to clarify how insider trading laws apply to members of Congress. The Post concluded its investigation did not turn up insider trading, but does raise the question of members having an improper advantage.

The chief ethics lawyer in the Bush Administration told the Post and ABC7 this behavior was highly unethical and should be further investigated.

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