Saturday, January 21, 2006

Does This Sound Familiar?

Newest scandal to hit Washington:
"Political intelligence".

While sometimes an oxymoron, in this case the term refers to a quiet but lucrative industry which provides information to clients in the investment community about impending government legislation.

In Canada, this type of thing produces an *income trust scandal*. In the U.S. it's perfectly legal - up until now, anyway.
This story has been brewing for at least a year: it was reported last February in The Hill, a Washington political newspaper. Strangely enough, it came to light again in November, only a week before our own income trust event, in an article in Business Week concerning some impending asbestos-related legislation and its effect on the stock of an American company.

Now, possibly because of momentum from the Abramoff scandal, spokespeople are appearing on news shows to publicize this practice with the ultimate aim of closing this loophole (good luck to them!): Rep. Louise Slaughter on Air America Radio, and Congressman Brian Baird on that station and also on MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann which is where I first heard of this story.
The transcript of the Countdown interview is supposed to be online at their site on Monday.

While this doesn't have an effect on our election, I find it fascinating because of the parallel to our own experience, and encouraging because this practice is apparently illegal here already or the RCMP wouldn't have gotten as involved as they are.

In the US, like here, you have to wonder just how deep the political scandals go, and realize that corruption and self-serving behaviour are not limited to any one particular party or philosophy. Rather, sadly, they are a function of human nature that we are going to have to get used to dealing with long after the current messes are cleaned up.

Cross posted to the CTV Election Weblog

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