HIGHTOWER: D'amato's Insider Stock Scam

Talk about a toad calling a frog ugly, how about Republican Senator Alfonse D'Amato hollering about Bill and Hillary Clinton's ethics.Like a little yapping toy terrier, Al has been going after the Clintons nonstop, whining in his whiniest voice that Hillary made a killing in the cattle market back in the Seventies, thanks to Bill's Arkansas political connections.Well, that might be so, but according to a report just released by the Securities and Exchange Commission, guess who has made an even more-dramatic get-rich-quick killing thanks to his political connections? The Yapper himself, Alfonse D'Amato.The New York senator's grab for the gold didn't take place way back in the Seventies either -- his was just three years ago. Here's the deal: D'Amato was ranking member of the Senate Banking Committee at the time, wielding big influence over the regulation of stock brokers. Along comes a Long Island brokerage firm called Stratton Oakmont that was under investigation by securities regulators for cheating plain, ordinary investors -- like maybe you. Stratton had already given money to D'Amato's campaign fund, and it even allowed him to have an investment account in their business, although his net worth was barely a tenth of what the firm normally required investors to have.Then one day in 1993, Big Al really hit a Big One. Stratton allowed him to buy 4,500 shares of a hot new stock offering -- a deal not available to ordinary investors. Guided by Stratton, D'Amato invested $18,000 in this stock in the morning, and that afternoon he sold it for more than three times what he paid for it. In just a few hours, D'Amato made $37,000 in profit, thanks to special treatment by a crooked brokerage house under his committee's jurisdiction.Hearing D'Amato preach about ethics is like hearing a prostitute preach about chastity.

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