Saturday, February 13, 2016

That Big Grayson Area

It's been a while since we've checked in with Rep. Alan Grayson, back in the House and running for Marco Rubio's seat in the Senate.  As the New York Times notes, Grayson has an interesting day job outside of being in Congress: that of hedge fund manager. And the House Ethics Committee apparently has a few questions for him.

This highly unusual dual role — a sitting House lawmaker running a hedge fund, which until recently had operations in the Cayman Islands — has led to an investigation of Mr. Grayson by the House Committee on Ethics.

The inquiry has become public, but emails and marketing documents obtained by The New York Times show the extent to which Mr. Grayson’s roles as a hedge fund manager and a member of Congress were intertwined, and how he promoted his international travels, some with congressional delegations, to solicit business.

Interviews and the documents show that Mr. Grayson told potential investors in his hedge fund that they should contribute money to the fund to capitalize on the unrest he observed around the world, and to take particular advantage when there was “blood in the streets.” 
The emails also show how Mr. Grayson’s work for the hedge fund, which had $16.4 million in assets as of October, at times interfered with his other duties. In August 2015, after Mr. Grayson introduced legislation calling for larger annual increases in Social Security benefits, he signed off on a plan to highlight the proposal at an event in Tampa, Fla., emails obtained by The Times show. But the plan was scuttled, two former aides said, when economic turmoil in China sent stock markets tumbling globally and Mr. Grayson had to turn his attention to the fund. 
Ken Scudder, a spokesman for Mr. Grayson, disputed that account. “There has never been any time when Representative Grayson’s investment activities have disrupted any of his work, whether official or campaign-related,” he said. 
Mr. Grayson says he has done nothing wrong. “Here is something that is not true: that I somehow traded on my membership as a U.S. congressman to get clients for this fund,” Mr. Grayson said in an interview. He added that in the last year he had refunded the full original investments put in by his two outside investors in a fund that had faced steep losses — leaving only Mr. Grayson and a family trust invested in the fund.

Look, Grayson would make an infinitely better US Senator than Marco Rubio and I hope he wins, but...the guy is literally a Wall Street hedge fund manager.  Let's not pretend he's some sort of scrappy outsider here who doesn't play the game.  There's a reason Congress is filled by the rich elite in both parties, and Grayson's one of them.

He has a spine.  He also has a hedge fund.  They are not mutually exclusive.

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