I like Phil (he’s left-handed, I’m left-handed; we have so much in common!) so I hope he hasn’t been up to anything shady. But even if I wasn’t a fan I’d be inclined to defend him, because insider trading is an arbitrary crime used by prosecutors in an arbitrary way. As I’ve said in the past:
It’s long been my position that there’s no such thing as “insider trading.” (I could go on and on about why I hold that position, but I’ll spare you right now. Suffice it to say that another word for “insider information” is “information”; the only thing that makes it “insider” is where you’re standing when you hear it.) It’s a made-up crime used by politicians to score cheap points with the electorate by sticking it to mean ol’ rich people.
My thoughts on this particular case are summed up pretty well by the guys at Powerline:
I know nothing about the merits of the case. It is possible that some or all of those under investigation violated securities laws. On the other hand, this could well be another instance of the Obama administration using federal agencies to harass the president’s political opponents. It is a curious fact that all three of the targets of the investigation have been outspoken critics of President Obama or of Democrats generally.
Could the current Obama administration investigation be intended to deter other figures in the world of sports and entertainment from making statements inconsistent with Democratic Party narratives? And to punish high-profile individuals who have contributed to Republican candidates? We don’t yet know. Perhaps the accusations will turn out to be well-founded. But the case, given what we know about the Obama administration’s misuse of federal agencies to attack the president’s critics, merits close attention.