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Is a new level of insider trading coming? Billionaire spends $57 million to get a Senate seat

Is a new level of insider trading coming? Billionaire spends $57 million to get a Senate seat

The unsavory links between lawmakers and money have been getting increasingly scrutinized in recent years as bills that would prevent politicians from directly trading keep getting promised only to never materialize, and companies spend increasingly immense sums on lobbying. 

The pulling of the issue into focus is perhaps best exemplified by the fact that, in 2024, even certain officials are citing the work of platforms such as Quiver Quantitative – best known for highlighting suspicious congressional trades on X – in their speeches and calls for more resilient legislation.

On the other hand, as the outrage keeps growing, so do the links between wealth and politics with few examples being as direct and flagrant as the campaign of Representative David Trone, a Democrat senatorial hopeful.

Trone lends millions to himself in Senatorial bid

The billionaire founder and co-owner of Total Wine & More, and the U.S. representative for Maryland’s 6th congressional district, has, by the time of publication, spent approximately $57 billion of his wealth in his bid to succeed Senator Ben Cardin.

The bid has, so far, been marked by Trone essentially lending millions to himself – or rather to his campaign – and has turned into the most expensive primary in Maryland’s history.

For her part, the other leading Democratic hopeful, Angela Alsobrooks, spent substantially less at just under $8 million but has commented she takes Trone’s vast spending as compliment as it indicates she is considered a credible opponent.

Trone has taken to carrying the vast expenditure as a badge of honor and a sign that his heart is in the race, despite it simultaneously raising questions about the ability of individuals and entities to buy power, whether by having an oversized impact on political campaigns, or through lobbying sitting legislators.

Should Trone be elected, he would, at least when it comes to the interests of his own company, cut one step from the usual way corporations influence politics.

Is money buying influence at all-time highs?

Even without Trone’s dual role as co-owner of a major company and a sitting lawmaker, politicians and corporations alike have done much to draw attention to the associated issues in recent months.

On the one hand, there have been suspicious trades made by politicians that entailed large investments made into companies whose sectors they oversee, with several coinciding with large government contracts or preceding worrying information that held the potential to send them sky-high.

Additionally, corporate lobbying efforts have also come under increased scrutiny, arguably largely thanks to vast sums of money donated by Sam Bankman-Fried shortly before his FTX collapsed and, more recently, to Meta’s (NASDAQ: META) spending of billions in the quarter leading up to the TikTok ban.

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