Sen. Charles E. Grassley, the Iowa Republican who has been leading an inquiry into “political intelligence” firms, said this week that he is not seeking to dismantle such firms or vilify the actions of Capitol Hill staffers who have communicated with them.
These firms hire armies of consultants to scour Washington for bits of information on federal actions that could influence the financial markets, and then sell the information to Wall Street investors. The industry was thrust into the spotlight in April, when a Washington brokerage called Height Securities revealed a key Medicare funding decision to its clients before the administration formally announced it, triggering a surge in health-care stocks.
The incident has come under federal investigation, prompted Grassley’s probe and ensnared other firms that were digging up information on the Medicare decision. Late Wednesday evening, Grassley spoke on the Senate floor to clear up what he described as “confusion” about the scope of his investigation.