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Political Notebook

Ban on insider trades gains traction

The chief sponsor of a bill to prohibit insider trading by members of Congress and their employees is Senator Scott Brown, Republican of Massachusetts.
The chief sponsor of a bill to prohibit insider trading by members of Congress and their employees is Senator Scott Brown, Republican of Massachusetts.Associated Press

W ASHINGTON- Members of Congress, battling single-digit approval ratings, are paying attention to the perception that some lawmakers enriched themselves through insider trading.

Bills in the House and Senate are getting hearings, and the House Ethics Committee has sent out a memo reminding lawmakers that insider trading could violate the law and House rules.

The interest was sparked by a CBS “60 Minutes’’ story last month that reported members of Congress can legally trade stock based on nonpublic information. The House memo makes clear this is not true.

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will hold a hearing today on a bill to prohibit insider trading by members of Congress and their employees. The chief sponsor is Senator Scott Brown, Republican of Massachusetts, who is running for reelection, with consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren expected to be his opponent.

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Representative Louise Slaughter, a New York Democrat, has been introducing her bill to ban insider trading by lawmakers since 2006. Before the “60 Minutes’’ story, there were nine sponsors; now there are 118.

Brown’s bill would prohibit members or employees of Congress from using nonpublic information - obtained through their public service - to invest money for financial gain.

Brown insisted that current law does not clearly define whether government officials trading on inside information is considered illegal.

— Associated Press

Huntsman praised by N.H.’s Democratic governor

CONCORD, N.H. - In a rare moment of bipartisanship in the 2012 presidential campaign, New Hampshire Governor John Lynch - a Democrat - praised Republican Jon Huntsman yesterday for his commitment to New Hampshire.

The men shook hands at Concord High School, and, in an unusually cordial moment, Lynch thanked him for his steadfast belief that the New Hampshire primary has a unique place in American politics.

“You’ve been here so frequently, you’re almost a native,’’ Lynch told Huntsman, who is counting on a strong finish in the state’s leadoff presidential primary to ignite his campaign.

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Huntsman was partway through a town hall meeting with students when Lynch, who had been attending an executive council breakfast at the school, walked in. The Huntsman campaign said the moment was not planned.

Huntsman, the former governor of Utah, immediately introduced Lynch and asked students to applaud.

“We were elected together in 2004,’’ said Huntsman, referring to the year both were first elected governor. “I have great respect and admiration for your governor.’’

Huntsman shook hands with Lynch and patted him on the back. Lynch thanked Huntsman for recognizing the importance of retail politics in New Hampshire. He has held over 110 events in the state.

A handshake with a Democratic governor could undercut Huntsman’s attempts to portray himself as a conservative. But the Lynch embrace may serve him well in New Hampshire, whose voters have reelected Lynch for four terms.

On the campaign trail, Huntsman frequently appeals to Republicans, independents, and Democrats and talks about the need for the country to come together.

But he has struggled to gain traction in the polls, consistently garnering low single-digit support. In a recent WMUR/University of New Hampshire survey, Mitt Romney led the pack here with 42 percent support from likely GOP voters; Huntsman, in fourth place, had 8 percent.

After the meeting with students, Huntsman highlighted his commitment to the state in an often light-hearted address to the Legislature.

“Did I tell you we’ve changed our campaign motto to ‘live free or die?’ ’ Huntsman said, adding “I want your vote. And if I don’t get your vote, I want a fee for services rendered.’’

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— Shira Schoenberg

Beleaguered Perry delivers stirring stump speech

CONCORD, N.H. - At least yesterday was a good day for Rick Perry.

The Texas governor, facing new questions about turmoil within his mistake-prone presidential campaign, was repeatedly interrupted by applause as he delivered a booming speech to the New Hampshire House of Representatives. For 14 minutes, the state glimpsed the candidate once considered a front-runner in the race for his party’s presidential nomination.

“He looked and sounded presidential,’’ said Josh Davenport, a Republican state representative from Newmarket. “It left me more confident in his abilities.’’

But one good day does not revive a campaign stuck in neutral, especially as Perry faces new questions about a staff shakeup, fundraising struggles, and scathing criticism from one of New Hampshire’s most prominent conservative voices, the Union-Leader newspaper.

Staffers privately cite internal finger-pointing. And Perry himself acknowledges a shift among his senior staff. He said he’s asked Joe Allbaugh, a veteran of the George W. Bush and Rudy Giuliani presidential campaigns, to play a prominent role in his operation.


— Associated Press