I got so excited yesterday morning when Kathleen Rice's e-mail to her constituents went out explaining that she would not be running for the Long Island congressional seat she first won in 2014. That statement was the best thing she's ever said in her entire miserable, conservative political career.
That photo up top is Rice with 4 of her crooked cronies exploding the price reduction for pharmaceutical drugs featured in the Build Back Better proposal. From left to right, the nefarious characters are Lou Correa of Orange County (being primaried by Mike Ortega), rotgut Oregon conservative Kurt Schrader (more anon), Rice, Seminole/Orange County Blue Dog chair Stephanie Murphy who is also retiring, and super-rich and super-corruptNew Dem Scott Peters of San Diego (being primaried by Kylie Taitano). Congress-- and the Democratic Party and all of America-- will be so much better off without any of them. And that brings us to Schrader, who may not understand how important it is for his constituents to see fair drug prices because he doesn't live anywhere near his constituents. And heir to a Big PhRMA fortune, technically Schrader does own a farm in Canby... but rarely visits his sons who actually live there. He's a homeowner and full-time DC resident and lives not among Oregonians but among K Street lobbyists who keep his coffers full. (He even married an energy lobbyist who uses her Maryland farm as her primary residence on her tax filings!)
Last week Austin Ahlman wrote that when Schrader "voted against the initial passage of the American Rescue Plan last year, he faced intense backlash from fellow Democrats in his Central Oregon district. The vote was Schrader’s third controversial action in as many months, following his opposition to the overwhelmingly popular $2,000 stimulus checks and a statement that compared the second impeachment of former President Donald Trump to a 'lynching' earlier that year. For local Democrats, it was the last straw. In a blistering letter signed by the party chairs from the five counties that make up Schrader’s current district, local leaders lambasted their representative for not 'consulting with communities in this district' before his vote. They labeled Schrader’s actions a 'betrayal of [his] duty to best serve [his] constituents' and claimed that the episode was an indication of 'how out of touch with [his] constituents' Schrader has become." A multimillionaire, he's also the only Democrat left in Congress who voted against raising the minimum wage. With the help of GOP-financed corporate interest group No Labels, Schrader played a key role in delinking-- and thereby killing-- Build Back Better from the bipartisan infrastructure bill.
Writing for Business Insider yesterday, Dave Levinthal reported on Schrader's greater-than-average corruption-- The Latest Member Of Congress To Violate A Federal Conflicts-Of-Interest Law. Schrader is rich enough-- and has been in Congress long enough-- to feel entitled and that he's above the law. Time for him to GO. (Blue America has endorsed Jamie McLeod-Skinner to replace him and you can help her campaign here.)
"Amid a pitched debate on Capitol Hill whether to ban lawmakers from trading stocks," began Levinthal, "another member of Congress-- Democratic Rep. Kurt Schrader of Oregon-- has improperly disclosed corporate stock trades in violation of a federal conflicts-of-interest law. Combined, Schrader sold up to $30,000 worth of shares in Charter Communications Inc. and insurance giant AON PLC on December 9 and December 14, respectively. But he didn't disclose the sales, as required by the STOCK Act, until early February-- days after a 45-day deadline for doing so, according to an Insider review of congressional financial records. That's a violation of the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act of 2012
Insider's Conflicted Congress investigation "found dozens of examples of members of Congress holding stock in companies that clash with their public responsibilities or stated orthodoxies or sat on committees that directly oversee the activities of companies in which they hold shares... Federal records indicate that Schrader is one of Congress' more active traders, having purchased or sold dozens of individual stocks during the past year, including those of Apple Inc., Home Depot, Microsoft Corp., defense contractor Northrop Grumman, and Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba Group."
Now in his 7th term, Schrader sits on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce's Communications and Technology Subcommittee, which has broad jurisdiction over electronic communications. He also sits on the Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Health.
The congressman's office declined to answer questions about whether his investments in Charter Communications, a diversified communications company, and AON PLC, which provides health insurance products, pose a conflict of interest with his committee responsibilities.
...Members of Congress face a $200 fine for failing to disclose their stock trades on time, but the Committee on House Ethics does not assess a fine for first-time STOCK Act disclosure provision violators if they're late by 30 days or fewer. Schrader's late stock disclosures fell within this "grace period," meaning he will avoid a fine.
"The penalty is very, very tiny and can be waved, and nobody is going to say that the penalties here are deterrents," said Jessica Tillipman, assistant dean for government procurement law studies at The George Washington University Law School in Washington, DC. "If you have millions of dollars of stock trades, you don't care about a $200 penalty."
Schrader's situation is yet another example of a much broader congressional ethics problem that lawmakers themselves are now unable to downplay or ignore, said Tillipman, who on Monday endorsed banning federal lawmakers and their spouses from trading stocks.
"I don't always have strong hope for Congress, especially when it comes to regulating their own behavior," Tillipman told Insider. "But there's a growing consensus that this kind of activity is improper, and the more attention it gets, the more likely it is that something happens."
Last night the progressive Democrat primarying Schrader, Jamie McLeod-Skinner told me that "With great responsibility comes great accountability, and Kurt Schrader has failed that test. Working families-- and not just in Oregon-- are fed up with corruption among those who abuse their position of power for self benefit. While in a position to set the rules, Kurt Schrader has taken $1 million from Big Pharma and the fossil fuel industry. And he makes millions trading their stocks. He represents corporate PACs, not Oregonians."
Jamie also told me she has never taken corporate PAC money "because you can’t be beholden to corporate PACs when your job is to regulate them so they don’t abuse their power and hurt people. I strongly support regulating conflicts of interest between corporate PACs, legislators, stocks, and committee assignments through legislation like the Ban Conflicted Trading Act. That’s what legislators should be doing-- there’s agreement on this. Schrader likes to talk about being a 'problem solver'-- well, this is a problem But he hasn’t signed on to this bipartisan legislation that only begin to restore trust and transparency. Why hasn’t he? Follow the money-- it would impact his pocketbook."