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TheStreet Open House

Congress Insider Trading Not News to Insiders

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Though CBS' "60 Minutes" report about Congress' immunity to insider trading rules was news to many people, but professionals on Wall Street and Main Street say that it isn't.

In Congress, Sen. Scott Brown (R., Mass.) introduced a bill that would prohibit insider trading by its members and employees as he said to serve the public was an honor, not an opportunity for personal gain.

"The fact is that the public certainly does not know or expect that this has been going on for years and feel that it is just another example of people in Washington obtaining sweetheart deals that they (the public) could never get," said Jim Denton, a GOP political strategist.

Wall Street isn't surprised.

Former Lehman Brother's trader Jared Dillian said that Congress' immunity to insider trading laws was pretty well known to people on Wall Street -- a kind of "open secret."

"This is not news," Dillian said.

Indeed, the debate has persisted for decades.

Sig Rogich, a former adviser to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, said that the Bush White House ruled impropriety as a bad act and that positions in stocks, bonds and investments could muddle the public's perception of transparency. So Rogich sold everything in accordance with the president's rule.

Rogich said in an oral history that he owned shares of Walt Disney (DIS) that the White House rule required him to sell. Walt Disney later invited the Bush administration to its large 50th anniversary celebration.

"When the President announced he was coming there, it made a big difference in the company and it probably had material effect on the stock," Rogich said in the oral history. "I just thought then how far the connection can get, and how glad I was that I had sold my stock."

"They should have laws that dictate this thing," said Rogich. "That's how I feel about it."

-- Written by Joe Deaux in New York.

> Contact me here: Joe Deaux.

> Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/JoeDeaux.

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