Hey, They Shoulda Called It 'Capital' Hill

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Ah, full disclosure time, when close readers of the news can find out which of those fat cats in Washington are really fat and which are just overpaid. This year's theme: How To Get Rich in the Markets Without Quitting Your Day Job as a Public Servant.

Some things you maybe didn't know...

"Senator" Bob Torricelli is really a day trader. In one frenzied period last summer, the New Jersey Democrat bought $1,001 to $15,000 (the forms congressmen fill out don't require exact numbers) worth of DrKoop.com on Aug. 5 and sold it the same day. He then bought an equal amount of Novell on Aug. 10, also selling it the same day. And on Aug. 11, Mr. Torricelli bought $15,001 to $50,000 worth of AmeriTrade stock and sold it on Aug. 13. Overall, Torricelli's stock holdings — after making hundreds of trades in 1999 — were valued from $260,000 to $775,000. Hot tip: He holds a lot of Amazon.com.

Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Washington) doesn't just represent — and vociferously defend — Microsoft Corp. against its legions of critics (even attending the antitrust trial's closing arguments to show his support), he's also a part owner. Inslee owns 632 shares of Microsoft and his wife owns 332; even in the stock's current funk that's worth about $70,000. Says Inslee: "It is a happy coincidence between what my constituents believe and my interests."

And Rick Lazio (R-New York) takes the cake for best single market play, lightweight division. Normally a conservative marketeer, in August 1997 the man who would beat Hillary plunked down $2,300 on a bushel of options in Long Island brokerage Quick & Reilly, whose executives have donated $35,000 to Lazio's campaigns. Less than two weeks later, takeover rumors swirled, the stock popped, and Lazio cashed in for $16,000. Denials all around on whether anything fishy was going on. By the way, Lazio is on both the House Banking and Commerce committees.

Other tidbits:

Champion of a simpler, flatter tax code, Dick "Short Form" Armey (R-Tex.) listed no assets and a meager teacher's pension as his only additional income... House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt (D-Mo.) is buried in student-loan debt... Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), a former investment banker, is worth over $5 million... Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), perhaps not surprisingly, is worth about $80 million... Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) put himself through law school playing the markets and made about $75,000 trading in 1999. "I wouldn't do it if it weren't profitable," he told the Washington Post.

Like public service?