Top House Lawmakers Had Considerable Holdings in Bailed-Out Firms

The U.S. House of Representatives Clerk’s Office accidentally released all of the personal annual financial disclosures of members of the House ahead of their scheduled release on Friday. LegiStorm, a firm that helps bring transparency to the U.S. Congress by disseminating public documents and non-partisan information over the web, captured the data and posted them on its Web site.

The release showed the following:

From WaPo: Top House lawmakers had considerable holdings in major financial institutions that took billions of dollars in taxpayer bailouts at the end of last year.

From stock holdings to retirement funds to mortgages, more than 20 House leaders and members of the House Financial Services Committee had large personal stakes in the Wall Street powerhouses…In some instances those lawmakers, like millions of other investors, sold their holdings at steep losses while others retained the stocks at greatly diminished value.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and her husband lost hundreds of thousands of dollars investing in American International Group, which has received $170 billion in government loans and cash injections, making it by far the largest recipient of federal bailout dollars. [Pelosi, whose husband, Paul, runs the San Francisco investment firm Financial Leasing Services, remains one of the wealthiest members of Congress. Her 22-page disclosure revealed investments in San Francisco condos, a Napa Valley vineyard, a hotel resort in Rutherford, Calif., and a San Francisco limousine business. She reports $100,000 to $1 million in income last year from grape sales at the vineyard].

Republican Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and his wife held stock, retirement plans and other investments worth at least $183,000 and as much as $495,000 in firms benefiting from federal government rescue efforts, including Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley.

At least 18 members of the House Financial Services Committee — which oversees the banking and housing industries at the core of the economic meltdown — held stock last year in firms that received federal bailout assistance, according to a review of the forms that were available yesterday.

Some ethics watchdogs were critical of members of Congress for investing directly in companies they oversee. “You wonder if they’re voting on things because it’s good for the country or because it would increase their personal wealth,” said Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

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