Congressmembers Implicated in Insider Stock Trading on TransCanada, Keystone XL Pipeline

When it comes to TransCanada Corporation's Keystone XL pipeline approval process, corruption has been rampant, as well covered by DeSmogBlog as it unfolded. The Keystone XL pipeline, currently in limbo, would carry tar sands crude – a thick and dirty fossil fuel called bitumen – from the Alberta tar sands through the heartland region and eventually down to Port Arthur, Texas, to be refined and placed on the global export market.

This week, a new layer of corruption was revealed by Sunlight Foundation Reporting Group, this one involving insider trading of TransCanada's stocks by four members of Congress, as well as by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice.

The politicians implicated and amount of money they invested in stock are as follows, according to Sunlight Foundation Reporting Group:

  • Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, reported in his 2010 financial disclosure form–the most recent available, filed on May 15, 2011–that he owned Transcanada stock worth between $115,002 and $300,000 (financial disclosure forms ask members to report their assets within broad ranges).”
  • Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., reported owning between $15,001 and $51,000 in TransCanada stock in his 2010 financial disclosure; according to his office, the ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Committee sold his stock on January 5, 2011.”
  • Rep. Judy Biggert, R-Ill., has held Trans Canada stock since 2004; her most recent disclsosure shows she owns a stake in the company worth between $1,001 and $15,000.”
  • Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y.…reported a $798 interest in Trans Canada.”
  • U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Susan E. Rice filed that she owned between $250,001 and $500,000 of TransCanada stock.”

This revalation comes in the aftermath of an in-depth muckraking report by 60 Minutes, in which it was revealed that numerous members of the U.S. Congress on both sides of the aisle, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-KY), were involved in insider stock trading deals. 

This all begs the question, is this a democracy or a kleptocracy that we are living in here in the United States? See the 60 Minutes segment below and ponder that.


Congress operates in a very strange world. My observation is most of them meet the requirement of good hair and winning smiles and  vote yes,no and present on things.

They are the system, they name stuff after themselves and they almost always become rich through institutionalized corruption. People mostly overlook this stuff because of the  hair and smiles and that little thumbs up thing they do. - see Kennedy family.

I agree the tendency toward corruption is in the nature of your average politician.  But I see a fundamental difference between conservatives and liberal “progressives” in this regard.

Liberals “progressives” have no serious inclination toward reform, and have nothing analogous to the Tea Party movement, for which they have so much contempt.

To the contrary – the liberal/”progressive” answer to corruption and government abuse of power is to have more government, and to give them more power.

“People mostly overlook this stuff because of the  hair and smiles and that little thumbs up thing they do. - see Kennedy family.”

Its a mostly conservative thing. E.g Nixon, Bush. They can’t help it. It’s just their nature.

I don't know how you could read this story and watch the 60 Minutes report and say “it's a conservative thing.” The two mainstream American political parties are both in head deep with this stuff.

See these, for instance:

The worst takeaway from this would be to walk away and say, “Oh, who cares, that's a conservative thing.” This stuff runs deep and really gets to the root of how corrupt the American political system is, shared on a bipartisan concensus.

“It’s a Bipartisan Thing, Actually”

Steve, I know. I’m sorry I didn’t extrapolate on my comment further & I agree, I came to the same conclusion also. Then I read Ricks comment who attempted to insinuate or allude that it’s a democrat/progressive thing with his comment :

“They are the system, they name stuff after themselves and they almost always become rich through institutionalized corruption. People mostly overlook this stuff because of the  hair and smiles and that little thumbs up thing they do. - see Kennedy family.”

Hence my flippant comment. I have commented on this blog numerous times against Clinton, Obama & our government here in Australia. I’ve never once seen the conservative denier regulars ( Rick, Ralph, Hank, Lara, Chris) here take to task the party they support over anything. That’s rusted on blind partisan politics to not see a single thing wrong with your on party & instead seek to lay blame on your opponents.

Yes, it was an immature comment, but it was in response to partisan immature statement.

“This stuff runs deep and really gets to the root of how corrupt the American political system is, shared on a bipartisan concensus.”

I don’t believe it is unique to the US political system.


We're in agreement here and it's definitely not uniquely American, either. In the age of globalization and global markets, it's all deeply connected, as you alluded to.

I think we also agree that tribal partisanship to a political party is rotten to its core, as well, and ultimately both futile and even dangerous.

ooh - got a minus 4 out of a mostly even handed comment - - love of that Kennedy smile is strong in these parts.

Since when does mere ownership of a stock amount to “insider trading”?

I suspect that Steve Horn has no idea what the term actually means, but it sounds dramatic to him.  You’d think someone would make a small effort to understand the term before throwing around such a serious accusation.  Apparently not.

In fact, the phrase “insider trading” doesn’t appear anywhere in the original article on which he bases his sanctimoneous polemic.  It’s his own baseless invention.

If his theory is that the value of TranCanada stock could be manipulated – by people not even in the US State Department – based on the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, the historic stock price, alone, should put that to rest.

You’ll notice on the date the Keystone XL approval was deferred, the share price of the stock barely even hiccupped.

Another thing you will notice from examining the particulars of TRP stock, is that nobody would buy it as part of “get-rich-quick” scheme.  Even going back more than a decade, you can see that share price isn’t subject to wild fluctuations.  To the contrary, TRP is, if anything, a pretty solid blue-chip stock, paying dividends like clockwork for about ten years now.  That probably explains why thousands of prudent buy-and-hold investors own some TRP in their portfolio.

The total amount of stock owned by the four individuals cited (who’s ownership is a matter of public record) amounts to probably far less than $800,000.  Based on this, Mr. Horn makes the utterly absurd accusation of “insider trading”.  (Has he notified the SEC with his “evidence”?!)

On the other hand, this is the same Steve Horn who has gone on record and glibly dismissed probably one of the most blatant examples of government corruption in recent history – one which will cost US taxpayers around $1 billion – the Solyndra scandal – as being a mere tempest in a teapot.

Yes, he’s “set the record straight”, alright.

“Insider trading is the trading of a corporation’s stock or other securities (e.g. bonds or stock options) by individuals with potential access to non-public information about the company.”

Guilty. Case closed.

And no… Insider Trading doesn’t mean the stock is being manipulated.  However, the people in question know when the best time to sell is, furthermore they are able to apply their talents to finishing the other end of the deal.

More or less this is a no loose scenario for them.  The kind of dream stock deal Joe Public can only dream of.

Steve Horn:  I’m more curious to know which governments have ownership in oil stocks.

We will definitely start looking into this side of things – a worthwhile investigation, indeed.

Finally we figured out how to make biofuel profitable - sell it to the Navy! Let’s sell more stuff to the navy at outrageous proces and use the profits to build windmills … Which we can sell to the navy for even more profits!

Call it the rj plan for a better future. And somebody cut me a cheque for the idea.

I have you figured for the Monty Python Arguement Sketch.

Simply contradicting people does not mean you are arguing with them.

Just because the price didn’t earn them instant profits, doesn’t mean they are innocent of insider trading.

It means they are bad at insider trading.

Further more, this is just the story so far.  Have they sold their shares and admitted naughty behaviour?  Or are they still holding their shares till they can ramrod the application through, and really cash in?

They have nonpublic knowledge because they are influential in the approval of the pipeline.

To satisfy myself that I didn’t fib earlier I looked up Michael McCaul’s involvement;

“In 2010, while the State Department was conducting its assessment for the Environmental and National Interest Determination, part of the approval process, McCaul joined other members in signing a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to push forward the Keystone XL pipeline.”

Here’s the letter, because I know you won’t go looking for it;

(Again, because I know you won’t go looking for it… His name is at the bottom of the last page.)

So it now becomes questionable as to why he signed that letter.  Did he do it for America’s good?  Or did he do it to line his own personal pocket?  This is what is known as a ‘conflict of interest’.

Since we’re recreating the argument sketch.. you’re supposed to say, “No it isn’t.”