Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Romney campaign lied in response to Ryan insider trading story

I am J.C. Wilmore, and I am the Richmonder.

When I posted early Saturday afternoon about the possibility that Paul Ryan may have traded on insider information on September 18, 2008, the day key members of Congress were warned about the impending bank crisis, I had no idea what I'd touched off. That first day, traffic to my site was up significantly, I got perhaps a week's worth of traffic in a day. On Sunday, traffic was up even more and then on Monday the story exploded and I received a year's traffic in 24 hours. I was blown away.

And then at 4:35 pm, Benjy Sarlin of TPM Mucker announced to the world that he had "debunked" my story. Not only did Benjy claim to have debunked it, he said he had done it "quickly." Well Benjy, not so fast.
The Romney campaign rapidly issued denials, based on three separate -- and clearly false -- claims: 1) the trades were not individual stock trades, but trades made as part of an index that trades big blocs of stocks according to preset formulas; 2) the meeting took place in the evening, after markets were closed, so the meeting could not have played a role in Ryan’s trading decisions; and 3) the stocks traded within a trust over which Ryan had no direct authority.

In many quarters, acceptance of the denials came almost as fast as the news of the original report. Benjy Sarlin of Talking Points Memo issued a report “debunking” the Richmonder story, stating that “the rumor, which spread rapidly across the Internet, doesn’t hold up to scrutiny.” Matt Yglesias over at Slate, who had first credited the story, backtracked, apologizing that he had been too “credulous” in accepting the Richmonder report.
Please read the entire story at Alternet.

It nows appears that Benjy Sarlin was misled by the Romney/Ryan campaign and he bought their explanation hook, line, and sinker.

I here now repeat the accusation I made on Saturday, August 11, 2012, specifically: that Paul Ryan received advanced knowledge of the coming banking disaster and he traded on that knowledge before it became public in the hopes of improving his financial position. Whether or not he succeeded in enhancing his financial position as a result of these trades is--to me--irrelevant. The fact is, in a tight spot for the country, Paul Ryan thought of himself first, which is precisely what his philosophical role model Ayn Rand would have wanted him to do.

It must be stated that at the time Paul Ryan carried out those trades they were completely legal--even ethical by the very low standards of Congress. But they were also potentially very politically damaging and that is why the Romney/Ryan campaign reacted the way they did: with lies and a coverup.

The coverup is now the real story, and credit for figuring out that the Romney/Ryan people were lying to Benjy Sarlin goes to Brad DeLong and Lynn Parramore. It was my friend Lowell Feld of Blue Virginia brought Ms. Parrymore's story to my attention this morning and I want to thank Lowell for sticking by me for the last few days--his support meant a lot to me during a stressful period.  I also want to reiterate that the real credit for this story should go to the good people at OpenSecrets.org who originally posted Ryan's financial report online where I could find it: without their hard and often thankless work there would have been nothing for me to find.

Let me leave you with this final thought: I found this story by looking at Paul Ryan's Wikipedia profile (don't bother looking for it now because the Romney/Ryan folks have since completely sanitized Ryan's entry there).  There was a reference to potential insider trading on September 18, 2008 and all I had to do was following the footnote link to OpenSecrets.org--it really was as simple as all that.  The presence of such damaging material on Ryan's Wikipedia profile nearly six hours after his selection as VP begs the question: was Paul Ryan properly vetted by the Romney campaign, or do we have another Sarah Palin situation on our hands?  What else is there we don't know about Paul Ryan?  The Romney/Ryan campaign has shown that we cannot trust them to honestly answer questions about Ryan's past.

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