Congress to America: Sorry. Gone Fishin'

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Democratic Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode IslandDid you lose money on last month's Facebook (FB) IPO? How about on Groupon (GRPN)? Zynga (ZNGA)?

Perhaps something seemed a little off when you logged on to your brokerage account and either couldn't place an order or couldn't get confirmation that your order was placed?

Congress couldn't care less.

On Wednesday morning, the Senate Banking Committee's subcommittee on Securities, Insurance, and Investment convened in a session entitled "Examining the IPO Process: Is It Working for Ordinary Investors?" But it appears that on Capitol Hill, the word "convened" is defined rather loosely.

Out of 18 senators who were supposed to be at the hearing, exactly one showed up. (Democratic Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island -- now and forever after to be dubbed "the loneliest senator in Congress.")

IPO Hearing MIAs

Even in a legislative body famous for its lackadaisical attitude to attendance requirements, this was a pretty poor showing.
Here's who did show up: Ann Sherman, associate professor of finance at DePaul University; Lise Buyer, founder and principal of Class V Group; Joel H. Trotter, partner at Latham & Watkins; and Ilan Moscovitz, senior analyst at The Motley Fool.

They all showed up on time and on message. They were there to educate Congress on why insiders on Wall Street have better access to information about companies going public, how they have a greater ability to buy shares of "hot" IPOs than do ordinary folks, and the deleterious effect this mismatch in information and access has on the stock market.

They outnumbered the senators -- or rather, senator -- listening to them by 4-to-1. Missing in action were:
  • Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii)
  • Michael Bennet (D-Colo.)
  • Bob Corker (R-Tenn.)
  • Mike Crapo (R-Idaho)
  • Jim DeMint (R-S.C.)
  • Kay Hagan (D-N.C.)
  • Tim Johnson (D-S.D.)
  • Mark Kirk (R-Ill.)
  • Herb Kohl (D-Wis.)
  • Robert Menendez (D-N.J.)
  • Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.)
  • Jerry Moran (R-Kan.)
  • Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.)
  • Patrick Toomey (R-Pa.)
  • David Vitter (R-La.)
  • Mark Warner (D-Va.)
  • Roger Wicker (R-Miss.)
Maybe next time we should hand out the senators' $174,000 paychecks at the hearing. Wonder if that might improve attendance a bit?

Rich Smith writes for The Motley Fool. He does not own shares of any company named above. The Motley Fool owns shares of Facebook.

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