U.S. Representative John Dingell; courtesy of the Library of Congress
U.S. Representative John Dingell (D-MI), elected December 13, 1955 to fill the vacancy caused by the death of his father, has served in Congress longer than any other member in its history. During his career, he has represented his Detroit district, and promoted the interest of the automobile industry and its workers. On the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, he wields enormous influence over commercial and financial legislation. Representative Dingell has parlayed his long career to become one of the leading legislative experts on financial and commercial affairs.
Representative Dingell has often sparred with Administration, regulatory and industry officials. His sharply-worded and direct missives on issues of concern have come to be referred to as “Dingell-grams.” An example can be found in his December 11, 1986 letter to SEC Chairman John Shad. Referring to investor inquiries to his office and to new accounts regarding “guaranteed investment contracts” and certain tax-exempt bonds, Representative Dingell gave the SEC a short deadline to respond to several substantive issues. Dingell demanded to know whether these contracts “are, and if not, should (they) be regulated as mutual funds under the Investment Company Act of 1940,” how the instruments were marketed, with whom the risk lies, and if a particular issue of such bonds underwritten by Drexel Burnham Lambert, and involving Michael Milken were backed in the junk bond market. 11
The extensive nature of the information sought and the power of Representative Dingell put enormous pressure on the SEC to respond to his requests. The demands from individual Representatives and Senators and from Congressional committees often complicated on-going investigations being conducted by the SEC.
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