Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Thursday challenged House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to turn over to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) records about her stock dealings, even as critics raised questions about Perry’s own record on government transparency.
“I get it about why Nancy Pelosi doesn’t want to debate me in public, because then she’s going to have to explain why she profited from these insider trading information [in] the stock market,” Perry told reporters in Mississippi, referencing the California Democrat’s scoffing at his offer to debate her in Washington next week. “But if she won’t explain her activities in a public setting such as a debate then I challenge her to turn over all that information to the SEC or an independent prosecutor to determine if she used insider information through her position in Congress to make money off of her investments.”
Perry’s push on insider trading comes days after a "60 Minutes" feature about the conveniently-timed but technically legal deals made by some lawmakers -- including Pelosi and Republican House Speaker John Boehner -- that resulted in profit to those members of Congress.
"It's unfortunate that a candidate for president is focused on debating anyone other than his primary opponents and repeating false claims from a book by Sarah Palin's speechwriter," said Drew Hammill, a spokesman for Pelosi. "It may be news to the Governor, but under the current Republican majority we already have a part-time Congress."
Pelosi's office notes that the leader's husband has held the vast majority of the Visa stock, selling just a small portion in November 2008 that yielded less than $5,000 in profit.
But the Texas governor’s new drive for good governance and a “part-time Congress” have raised the eyebrows of Perry critics who note that he was himself the target of an insider trading allegation in 1996.
According to reports, Perry purchased shares of stock in a donor’s business on the same day that an investment group pushed up the company’s stock shares.
Perry said Thursday that those allegations were dismissed.
“Well the bottom line was the SEC looked at that and said there wasn’t anything to it, so all I’m asking is for Nancy Pelosi to turn over her records to the SEC and let them make that decision,” he said.
The Texas governor also brushed aside questions about how his state has offered economic incentives to companies linked to his donors, saying that all such requests must be reviewed by a series of other government officials outside the governor’s office. “The idea that someone makes a campaign contribution and try to connect that to the dots doesn’t work in this case because we have all the safeguards in place,” he said.
Perry also offered harsh words for the president, who is currently traveling abroad as debt negotiations remain at a stalemate.
“The president is AWOL as far as I’m concerned, as a matter of fact,” Perry said. “Instead of being in Hawaii or Asia or wherever he thinks he is on this particular trip he oughta be here working on this budget issue.