July 14, 2002
Letter to the Editor

Reading the letters to the editor in the Seattle area papers can be tremendously frustrating; any time an issue arises that involves big business or the Republican party, the resultant torrent of letters to the editor show that most of the letter writers are reading from the same playbook. Here's a few of the more popular myths I've seen in the past week's worth of letters to the local news outlets.

Myth 1: George Bush was 34 weeks late in filing the paperwork from the sale of his stock.

This is partially true. When selling stock, there are two forms filed, Form 144 (filed on the day of the sale) and Form 4 (due within one month of the sale. The Form 4 was late; the Form 144 was filed on time. If Bush was truly trying to avoid scrutiny of the sale, one would think that he would not have filed the Form 144 (or he would have filed both to avoid an investigation).

Myth 2: Bush sold the stock to avoid a huge loss.

This is untrue. Bush sold the stock to purchase an interest in the Texas Rangers baseball team. At the time he bought into the Rangers, his most valuable asset was the stock he held in Harken; he sold $800,000 worth of Harken Energy stock to pay off a $600,000 loan for the purchase of the team.

If he "knew" the stock was going to tank, would it make sense to hold on to the 100,000 shares he didn't sell? Yes, that's right—Bush only sold two thirds of the stock he owned in the company. Krugman, McAuliffe, and Daschle never mention that fact.

Myth 3: Bush knew that the company was in trouble.

Another falsehood. Bush knew the company was going to have a bad quarter, but it was far worse than he could have known. At the time of the stock sale, Harken was forecast to lose about $4.2 Million for the quarter—it was actually more than $20 Million, a figure Bush had no way of knowing. The reports he received as a member of the auditing board at the time of the sale showed the company had lost $3.9 million. After the stock sale, write-downs and charges significantly increased the company's loss for the quarter.

Myth 4: Harken "cooked the books" to keep the stock price artificially high.

No, they didn't. Harken Energy's stock fluctauted between $4 and $5/share prior to the Bush sale. It began a slow decline though August, 1990. The day Harken released their third quarter results, the stock, then trading at $3/share, dropped to $2.38/share. However, the next day, it recovered to $3/share. The stock continued dropping for the rest of the year, however, bottoming out at $1.25, at which point the stock began recovering. By June of 1991, the stock was trading at $4/share again, and by August, it was $8/share.

Myth 5: Bush dumped the stock on unsuspecting shareholders.

Bush was actually contacted first by a stockbroker representing a large institutional shareholder interested in Harken stock. He contacted Harken's in-house counsel, the company's chairman, another director, and the company's outside counsel to verify that the sale would not raise insider trading issues. Only then did he sell the stock.

Myth 6: Bush's proposals are hypocritical because they prevent anyone else from doing what he did.

Yet another falsehood. Nothing Bush has proposed would make illegal the sale of stock by company board members, whether at a loss or at a profit. To propose that board members cannot sell stock in a company of which they are board members is absurd; nobody would serve on the board of a company in which they owned stock, which would mean that the boards would be composed of members with no financial interest in the company's health.

Perhaps if the left wing actually did a little checking, instead of regurgitating what they hear from the DNC and its media adjuncts, they would realize that they are being sold a bill of goods—one not emanating from the GOP or big business, but from the Democratic Party's anti-capitalist puppeteers.

posted on July 14, 2002 02:32 PM


"Bush knew that the company was in trouble. Another falsehood."

WRONG! Bush was a member of a three-member special committee dealing with the terrible shape the company was in after defaulting on loan covenants. He was advised in writing that Harken's investment advisers believed an equity offering to raise cash would fail.

Bush knoew exactly what position the company wa sin.

posted by Jak King on July 16, 2002 06:04 AM

Let me guess: English is your third language? Maybe fourth?

posted by David Perron on July 17, 2002 01:52 PM

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