Moonlighting

Alan Grayson, of Florida, has an interesting professional life.

By day he’s a member of the U.S. House of Representatives: a liberal Democrat representing Florida’s ninth congressional district.

And by night he…runs a hedge fund.

Say what?

That’s right: the congressman runs a hedge fund.

A hedge fund that encourages prospective clients to invest with him in countries where unrest presents opportunities to make money – actually, where there’s “blood in the streets,” the hedge fund’s marketing materials say.

graysonIn those marketing materials, Grayson boasts about his international travels. What he doesn’t boast about is that taxpayers are footing the bill for some of those travels.

Those marketing materials also don’t explain that Grayson, as a member of Congress, has greater access to information about some of those dicey foreign situations than the typical investor or, say, someone who reads this blog.

An insider’s look. “Insider” as in a form of “insider trading.”

And they don’t mention that as a member of Congress, he could play a role in addressing some of that unrest.

But does he? Would he, knowing that successfully addressing unrest in some troubled country could be bad for business?

Until recently, Grayson’s hedge fund had branches in the Cayman Islands. Other than sunshine and gentle Caribbean breezes, we all know that the only reason financial interests operate out of the Caymans is to escape American taxes and hide income.

And speaking of hiding income…

Members of Congress are permitted to hold second jobs – but with limits: they cannot earn more than $27,495 a year in those jobs.

Which Grayson claims is not a problem for him because, as reported by the New York Times, he says

…he did not violate this rule because he had not reported any earned income from the fund…

“Reported” any earned income from the fund – an interesting choice of words. In fairness, it would be nice to know if that word is Grayson’s or the Times.’

So is this kind of thing okay with Grayson’s colleagues in Congress?

Apparently not. This piece was scheduled to run last Thursday with a very different ending but The Curmudgeon pulled it when the House Ethics Committee came out with its preliminary report two days earlier. According to the Washington Post, the committee found “substantial reason” to believe Grayson “violated federal law and broke House rules in a number of business and legal activities and in managing his congressional office.” Among the issues the committee raised: running the hedge fund while serving in Congress; directing legal work performed by others but for which Grayson may have been paid while in office; and conducting interviews about his campaigns while in his House office.”

Addressing this in a timely manner is important: Grayson is seeking a promotion from the House to the Senate seat Marco Rubio is vacating. Recent polls don’t show anything conclusive: they range from the race being very close to Grayson having an eight-point lead over his opponent for the Democratic nomination. The Curmudgeon is only vaguely familiar with the candidates and knows Grayson’s positions on issues are far more to his own (left-wing) liking than those of his opponent but a guy who doesn’t know right from wrong has no place in public office. A person is innocent until proven guilty but only a fool would vote for someone with this kind of cloud hanging over his head. The primary isn’t until August, 30, though, so we – and Florida’s voters – should have a much clearer picture of the situation by then.

And have an opportunity to do the right thing.

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