Rep. Spencer Bachus, chair of the House Financial Services Committee, is being investigated by the Office of Congressional Ethics over possible violations of insider-trading laws, the Washington Post reported.
The Office of Congressional Ethics, an independent investigative agency, is looking into suspicious trades found on Bachus’s annual financial disclosure forms, individuals familiar with the case told the Post. Investigators told Bachus that they have probable cause to believe violations occurred.
Bachus, the Republican representative for Alabama and chairman of the House Financial Services Committee since 2010, said he expects his name to be fully cleared by the investigation, according to ABC News.
“I welcome the opportunity to set the record straight. I respect the congressional ethics process,” Bachus wrote in a statement on Friday, ABC reported. “I have fully abided by the rules governing Members of Congress and look forward to the full exoneration this process will provide.”
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Rep. Bachus holds one of the most influential positions in the House, according to the Post, and has been actively buying stock options while overseeing the country's banks and financial institutions.
The issue being investigated is whether Bachus violated Securities and Exchange Commission laws, which forbid individuals from making financial decisions based on information that is not available to the general public, the Los Angeles Times reported.
According to his financial disclosure forms, many of Bachus's trades coincide with major announcements by the US government and industries he monitors, the Post reported. Most of Bachus's investments involve options rather than stocks, which allow him to buy or sell stocks at certain prices in the future.
the House passed the STOCK (Stop Trading On Congressional Knowledge) Act on Thursday, which bans Congress members and other federal employees from making trades in financial markets based on information obtained in the course of their work that is not readily available to the public, ABC News reported. Bachus voted in favor of the bill.
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This week, a Gallup poll showed that just 10 percent of Americans approve of the work Congress is doing, a record low, Bloomberg Businessweek reported. The approval rate is down from the previous low of 11 percent in December 2011.