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Taking Stock In Congress

Professor Gregory Boller and his students at the University of Memphis published an article "Taking Stock In Congress" some time ago. It used information available on public databases to link the voting records of U.S. Representatives and Senators to
their personal stock-trading.
This information is in the public domain but not ordinarily available to citizens who don't know how or where to look. It revealed some intriguing correlation's.

By combining the databases that track the voting and investing information with a network that distributes the information, in this case a Web site, it becomes possible to provide a citizen's guide to who owns who in Washington.
Mojo Wire43, is the Website which connects the databases into a "Taking Stock in Congress" section where citizens can follow the stock transactions and voting records of "83 members of Congress who purchased or sold stocks near the time of Congressional votes or other government actions relevant to the stocks' value."
There have been some interesting revelations. " Senator. Alfonse D'Amato (R-NY) bought up public utilities stock just two days
before President Bush signed the National Energy Conservation Act, which deregulated energy transmissions, offering growth opportunities for many utilities.

Newt Gingrich (R-GA) helped kill amendments to cut funding for the space station program just three weeks after buying stock in Boeing, which was subsequently named the prime contractor for the station.

Senator Lloyd Bentsen (D-TX) bought stock in a food and dairy company, Morningstar Foods, four days before the introduction of an amendment to the National School Lunch Act. The amendment called for diversifying milk choices for school
lunch programs, opening the door for Morningstar's various milk products. Later that year Bentsen unloaded his Morningstar stock just before the Justice Department opened a probe into the company for bid-rigging."

Another Website that provides useful information about funding sources of political campaigns is the Center for Public Integrity44. CPI founder Charles Lewis was an emmy-nominated investigative reporter for CBS News and ABC News, and is the author of The Buying of the President (Avon 1996).

The combination of public information and modest computer savvy makes it possible to track the assets of the top Presidential candidates, including honoraria paid to candidates while holding public office, trips taken, identity of largest contributors.
This is a legitimate activity and especially so for people in public life. If it was applied to the non-executive chairmen of companies or even the corporate affairs directors of corporations, would it be an infringement of their civil liberties?

This kind of behaviour falls within the realm of cyber stalking. Where to draw the line is an issue. It is not difficult to find out information about people.

Article Series

This article is part 8 of a 12 part series. Other articles in this series are shown below:
  1. Interactivity
  2. Brand Performance
  3. Online PR
  4. Sponsorship Marketing
  5. Brand Attacks
  6. Cyber Counterfit Sales
  7. Internal Communications
  8. Cyberstalkers
  9. Protection from Cyberstalkers
  10. Investor Relations
  11. Share Scams
  12. Protecting Investors
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