A BuzzFlash Reader Commentary
July 17, 2002
The Harken Facts
by Brian Lee
Here are the facts which cannot be disputed:
1. Whitewater was farther from Clinton's presidency than Harken was to Bush's. Clinton's alleged white collar crime really had nothing to do with his presidency; on the other hand, Bush's alleged white collar crime has everything to do with his.
Bush was going to "change the tone," clean up the corruption in Washington. He promised to run the country like a CEO. He was close to Enron -- his friend "Kenny boy" who was on the short list for Energy Secretary, not to mention Thomas White. If he did commit white collar crimes, then it affects his ability to clean up these Big Business. Who wants a crook in charge? It's like Marion Barry or General Noriega leading our country -- much worse than a guy who cheated on his wife and lied about it under oath.
The entire capitalist system is under threat from these guys who are manipulating the system and damaging the integrity of, and public confidence in, the markets, not to mention ripping other people off. Any time someone makes a successful bet in the market, someone loses on the opposite bet. If some people are cheating, they must be punished. Right now punishment is too infrequent and light. It's hard to punish these guys, juries are not smart enough to understand these manipulations. (I think we should take some prominent guy who's abused the system and throw the book at him. Make an example out of him. We need to have a credible deterrence in place, like some people say capital punishment deters murder. Let's put some of these guys in a real prison, not these country club minimum security deals.)
2. The Clintons were investigated for Whitewater, very aggressively and thoroughly, for years and $70 million dollars, and no evidence was found to charge them with any crime. Bush was investigated by the SEC in 1991, when his father was President. (The alleged crime took place in 1986). The SEC closed the case, but said the closure "must in no way be construed as indicating that (Bush) has been exonerated." The SEC never interviewed Bush. They now refuse to release records as to what they actually did or didn't do. The SEC currently answers to the President, of course.
3. 16 days before Bush sold his stock, Bush received a memo predicting the company would lose money next quarter. Bush does not dispute he had this information, and states he thought the losses would be $9 million. (The eventual losses were $23 million.) Bush sold 212,000 shares in Harken Two months later the official report came out and the stock tanked.
Trading on insider information is illegal, prompting an SEC investigation. From the SEC website:
The investigation was delayed because Bush did not report the sale immediately, as he is required to do by law.
4. Harken did not get traded in heavy volumes like IBM, for example. Fewer than 10,000 shares were traded daily, in the days leading up to the Bush trade, which was 212,000 shares. The mystery buyer has not come forth. There has been speculation that it was a friend of Bush senior, but nothing is known for sure.
Those were the facts. The opinion . . . the guy's a total crook. I think the above is just the tip of the iceberg. I think there are a lot of stories: Harken, Enron, Halliburton, the Carlyle group, etc., that will emerge, depending on the public's attention span and whether other issues distract from this (if there's another terrorist attack, that may save Bush.)
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