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.
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.
In 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?
Well it is, at least so far. Sure, his congressional aides have encouraged him to get out of the hedge fund business. And yes, the House Ethics Committee launched an investigation in early January. The wheels of considering the propriety of certain kinds of behavior – policing themselves, that is – turn slowly in the House, though, and in late February the committee said it needed six more weeks to look into the situation.
Meanwhile, Grayson is seeking a promotion at the office: a member of the House, he’s running for the Florida Senate seat that Marco Rubio had decided he no longer wants.
Do the people of Florida understand what Grayson is doing? Are they okay with what Grayson is doing?