Lawmakers Have a Financial Stake in the War


Yesterday afternoon the Center for Responsive Politics posted an article that makes great use of their Sunlight-funded Personal Financial data on Congress and on defense contracts.

CRP found that members of Congress had as much as $196 million invested in companies with Dept. of Defense contracts in 2006 (the most recent reports available), which seems worth noting as Congress awaits a briefing on the Iraq war from Gen. Petraeus next week. The contractors in which Congress is most invested are, for the most part, not in the defense sector, which surprised them (but makes sense given the vast size and many needs of the US military ) but are companies like Procter & Gamble, Pepsico, Microsoft and Johnson & Johnson. According to CRP, members also hold millions of dollars in defense company stock such as Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

Massie sez:

I think many American investors would be surprised to learn that lawmakers have a financial stake in the war.

And in other findings from their new favorite database (Personal Financial Disclosures), CRP had this item in yesterday’s newsletter, pointing out that the ranking Republican on the House’s global warming committee is a big investor in the oil companies that were called on the carpet by the committee’s Democrats on Tuesday:

The ranking Republican on the House Select Committee on Energy and Global Warming has owned $1.2 million in stock in the oil and gas companies whose executives testified this week before the panel. Rep. James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin reported at least $100,000 of his own money in each of four of the five companies represented at Tuesday’s hearing — Exxon, BP, Chevron and ConocoPhillips, but not Royal Dutch Shell — according to his most recent personal financial disclosure form, for 2006. Sensenbrenner, who CRP estimates to be the House’s 16th wealthiest member with a net worth of at least $21 million, also owns stock in Halliburton and El Paso Energy. One other member of the committee, Democrat Earl Blumenauer, reported between $50,000 and $100,000 invested in a natural gas company in his home state of Oregon. As Democrats lambasted the oil executives Tuesday for collecting tax breaks while earning record profits, Sensenbrenner gave them credit for pursuing alternative energy sources. "Any reasonable energy policy must recognize that we need affordable supplies of energy, and that oil and gas must continue to play a dominant supply role for the foreseeable future," he said in his opening statement. The executives who testified "are striving to meet the challenge of securing energy in an insecure world." Together, members of Congress had between $11 million and $32.6 million invested in the five companies represented at the hearing, according to their 2006 financial disclosures, and between $21.7 million and $57.4 million in the entire oil and gas industry.

See here for Congressional investments by industry and Congressional investments by company/keyword.