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A Few Conflicts of Interest?

Earlier this week, Legistorm discovered that the House Clerk’s Office had posted lawmakers’ latest financial disclosure forms — scheduled for release Friday — a few days early. The Washington Post dug through the records yesterday to find that some of the top cheerleaders for the $700 billion Wall Street bailout, which the House passed in October, were also heavily invested in the same struggling firms the massive rescue bill was designed to save.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), for example, was (along with her husband) heavily invested in American International Group, which has received about $170 billion in federal help under the bailout, The Post found.

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.

Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-Mich.) voted against the initial bill, but has since become one of the loudest supporters of using the bailout money to save Detroit’s ailing automakers. Not that it’s helped his investments in Chrysler, which has received billions of dollars under the bailout.

His disclosure forms for the end of 2007 showed he had between $1,000 and $15,000 in company stock, which by the end of last year fell to between $1 and $1,000 in value.

The disclosures prompted Melanie Sloan, who heads Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics, a government watchdog group, to ask what just might be the appropriate question: “You wonder,” she told The Post, “if they’re voting on things because it’s good for the country or because it would increase their personal wealth.”

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