Documents Show Lawmakers' Assets, Losses
MICHELE NORRIS, host:
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Michele Norris.
And it's that time of the year again, the time when members of Congress release documents detailing their financial assets. The reports show that the recession and the dizzying fall of the stock market hit some lawmakers pretty hard. One of the hardest hit is one of the most powerful, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
NPR's Andrea Seabrook reports.
ANDREA SEABROOK: In August of 2006, Speaker Pelosi's husband, Paul Pelosi, he's a professional investor, bought shares in AIG. Their value was reported as a range, somewhere between 250 and $500,000. At the time, AIG, or American International Group, was a sprawling, thriving insurance and financial services firm. A little over two years later, it was floundering. And Nancy Pelosi's office was involved in crafting the legislation that would try to bail it out.
Representative NANCY PELOSI (Democrat, California): When it became a company that was receiving funds, we divested ourselves of that.
SEABROOK: Pelosi responded to questions today at her weekly news conference in The Capitol. She said she doesn't think there should be any formal restrictions on members of Congress and what they invest in.
Rep. PELOSI: But when there's any thought of conflict of interest, yes, then we should divest.
SEABROOK: By the time Paul Pelosi sold their shares in AIG, they were worth between 1,000 and $15,000. That means the Pelosis lost hundreds of thousands of dollars on the investment. Lots of other members of Congress lost money during the economic downturn of the last nine months, on AIG, Citigroup, J.P. Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo and other financial firms.
An interesting side note: Lawmakers' financial disclosure reports weren't even supposed to be released until tomorrow, but someone in the House clerk's office inadvertently posted them on their Web site. The reports were only online for a short time, but it was long enough for another site called Legistorm, to copy and publish them. Welcome to the 21st century.
One lawmaker's loss was more symbolic than it was financial. Michigan Republican Thaddeus McCotter said he lost $800 on three shares of Chrysler stock he's had his whole life.
Representative THADDEUS MCCOTTER (Republican, Michigan): Well, my grandparents bought it for me - three shares. I was little. And they thought there was nothing more safe to put your money in than one of the big three. And now we see that they were mistaken.
SEABROOK: McCotter represents a suburb of Detroit and holds out hope that Chrysler might rise again someday, for the sake of his constituents. Financial disclosure forms for senators will be released tomorrow as planned.
Andrea Seabrook, NPR News, The Capitol.
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