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If You Get The Sense That We're On The Outside Looking In, You're Probably Right.

Clearly, some people are just looking out for themselves. And these are the ones we count on to look out for the rest of us? Oy. I wonder if this fa

Barney Frank_00523.jpg

Clearly, some people are just looking out for themselves. And these are the ones we count on to look out for the rest of us? Oy. I wonder if this falls into the "moving ahead" category, or is anyone going to look into this?

WASHINGTON -- As financial markets tumbled and the government worked to stave off panic by pumping billions of dollars into banks last fall, several members of Congress who oversee the banking industry were grabbing up or dumping bank stocks.

Anticipating bargains or profits or just trying to unload before the bottom fell out, these members of the House Financial Services Committee or brokers on their behalf were buying and selling stocks including Bank of America and Citigroup -- some of the very corporations their committee would later rap for greed, a Plain Dealer examination of congressional stock market transactions shows.

Financial disclosure records show that some of these Financial Services Committee members, including Ohio Rep. Charlie Wilson, made bank stock trades on the same day the banks were getting a government bailout from a program Congress approved. The transactions may not have been illegal or against congressional rules, but securities attorneys and congressional watchdog groups say they raise flags about the appearance of conflicts of interest.

"I don't think that any of these people should be owning these types of financial instruments," said Brian Biggins, a Cleveland securities lawyer and former stock brokerage manager. "I'm not saying they shouldn't be in the stock market. But if they're on the banking committee and trading in these kinds of stocks, I don't think that's right."

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