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Lawmakers Negotiating Bank Bill Hold Industry Stock

June 22, 2010

As with Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, a former Monsanto employee, sitting on a case involving Monsanto, lawmakers who own industry stock writing a bill regulating the industry is most probably a conflict of interest. The appropriate action would be to recuse oneself of participation.

June 17, 2010

By Jonathan D. Salant

Bloomberg/Business Week

June 17 (Bloomberg) — Lawmakers writing the biggest overhaul of financial regulations since the Great Depression may have a stake in the outcome.

Eight of 11 senators and six of 22 House members on a conference committee writing the final legislation own stocks in financial companies affected by the legislation, disclosure statements released yesterday show.

One senator and nine representatives who also sit on the committee got extensions of the filing deadline and haven’t yet disclosed their holdings.

“It’s always a concern that personal interests influence legislation,” said Lisa Gilbert, a lobbyist for the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, a Boston-based organization pushing for stronger financial regulations.

The 43 negotiators are trying to iron out differences between the House and Senate versions of the legislation as they respond to an economic crisis that forced the U.S. to provide $700 billion in bailout funds for New York-based Citigroup Inc.; Charlotte, North Carolina-based Bank of America Corp. and other banks. The measure passed the Senate last month and the House in December.

Senator Mike Crapo, an Idaho Republican, reported purchasing 222 shares of Citigroup in October. Spokeswoman Susan Wheeler said the senator “doesn’t make any decisions” on what stocks to buy, leaving it to a broker.

Judd Gregg

Republican Senator Judd Gregg of New Hampshire reported Bank of America stock holdings and a savings account valued between $1 million and $5 million, plus lesser amounts in banks including McLean, Virginia-based Capital One Financial Corp. and New York-based JPMorgan Chase & Co. Laena Fallon, a spokeswoman for Gregg, declined comment.

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd’s wife, Jackie Clegg Dodd, is on the board of CME Group Inc., the world’s largest futures market, and held between $250,000 and $500,000 in CME stock, according to the Connecticut Democrat’s filings.

On the House side, Republican Representative Shelley Moore Capito’s husband, Charles, is an executive vice president at Parkersburg, West Virginia-based United Bankshares Inc. The couple reported owning between $65,000 and $150,000 of stock in Citigroup, Charles Capito’s former employer.

Joel Brubaker, Capito’s chief of staff, said the House ethics committee approved of her service on the Financial Services Committee even though her husband was in the banking business. “They gave her a green light,” Brubaker said.

Finance Committee

Separately, Democratic Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, a member of the tax-writing Finance Committee who has criticized legislation raising taxes on executives of venture capital firms, reported that wife Teresa Heinz Kerry had at least $54.3 million invested in privately run funds. That includes more than $2 million with Polaris Venture Partners of Waltham, Massachusetts, and Salix Ventures II LP, run by Salix Management Corp.

His wife also invested between $1.5 million and $3 million in a fund run by her son, Andre Heinz, from the offshore tax haven Guernsey in the British Isles. Andre Heinz’s Sustainable Technologies Fund focuses on companies developing clean energy products in Scandinavia.

“It’s preposterous to conclude that his wife’s holdings in inherited trusts that he has zero control over would affect his judgment or commitment to the serious work being done here to hold Wall Street accountable and rein in reckless corporate spending,” said Senator Kerry’s spokeswoman, Whitney Smith.

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