Posted Dec 19th 2011 at 7:16 am
From Roll Call:
May 2010, then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi took to a podium in the Capitol to introduce a half-dozen economic experts she had convened for a meeting on how to jump-start the economy. The group had met for several hours with top Democratic leaders, and Pelosi invited them to speak publicly on their perspectives on economic growth.
What Pelosi did not mention is that one of the men in the group was her son’s boss and a partner with her husband in more than a half-dozen investments, including one that generated more than $100,000 in income for the Speaker’s family last year.
It was the fourth time since 2007 that Pelosi had invited San Francisco investment banker William Hambrecht to be part of an economic policy forum on the Hill and the third time she appeared at a podium with him to speak to reporters. At none of those events did the then-Speaker reveal her financial ties to Hambrecht, and House rules did not require her to do so.
At a time when the connection between a Member of Congress’ personal finances and public role has been spotlighted by the proposed STOCK Act — which would prohibit lawmakers from trading on legislative knowledge — the case of Pelosi and her family’s investment adviser is a reminder of how few rules exist to govern these relationships.
According to her personal financial disclosure form for 2010, Pelosi’s husband, Paul, had holdings in more than a half-dozen companies tied to Hambrecht’s investment banking firm WR Hambrecht + Co.
Pelosi has advanced at least one bill that would have been beneficial to an investment her husband has with Hambrecht, but that doesn’t appear to violate House rules either.
In May 2007, Hambrecht’s firm managed an initial public offering of stock in a company called Clean Energy Fuels Corp., which provides liquid natural gas fueling stations for fleet vehicles. On the first day the stock was sold, Paul Pelosi invested $50,000 to $100,000 in the company, an investment that does not appear to have produced any profit for the family so far.
The company said in its 2010 annual report, “We were disappointed in 2010 when the Nat Gas act, which was structured to help promote natural gas vehicle deployment in the United States, failed to move through Congress. … The Legislation would be good since it would accelerate the deployment of vehicles, but our business is not dependent on it and we continue to move forward without it.”
The NAT GAS (New Alternative Transportation to Give Americans Solutions) Act would provide a series of tax breaks for natural-gas vehicles and require the Energy Department to create new programs to support natural-gas vehicle research and development. The bill is listed on Pelosi’s Democratic leader website as part of the party’s “Make It in America” agenda, but her office said she does not support the bill.
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