Can you say hypocrits?
More than a dozen Democratic members of Congress critical of oil companies have investments in the industry, according to a review of lawmakers’ financial assets.
At least 14 Democratic members of the House and one senator have holdings ranging from several thousand dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars in companies such as Exxon Mobil Corp. and Chevron Corp. or partnerships such as Schlumberger and Hornbeck Offshore Services.
“I always vote against the companies I own,” said Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.). “I don’t give a damn.”
Cohen owns $15,000-$50,000 of stock in Chevron, $50,000-$100,000 in Exxon Mobil, and $15,000-$50,000 in Schlumberger, a highly profitable oil-services company that provides technical expertise and equipment.
Sen. John Kerry (Mass.), the 2004 Democratic nominee, has blasted his colleague John McCain (Ariz.), the expected Republican presidential candidate, in recent days for pursuing policies that he says benefit the oil industry.
In the House, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) has criticized the industry for not investing more in production capacity and questioned whether companies have manipulated prices.
Maloney owns assets in BP and Exxon Mobil of $50,000-$100,000 and $100,000-$250,000, respectively.
Tyson Slocum, director of Public Citizen’s energy program, said it was inconsistent for Democrats to criticize companies but also invest in them.
Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.), who has criticized “needless tax breaks for giant oil companies” and accused oil companies of deliberately decreasing capacity to boost profits, has one of the biggest oil investments. He owns assets in Richey Oil Company of Houston worth between $250,000 and $500,000, according to his financial disclosure report. He earned royalties worth $50,000-$100,000 from that investment in 2007.
His office did not respond to requests for comment.
Rep. Charlie Wilson (D-Ohio) owns stock worth $1,000-$15,000 in Exxon Mobil and $15,000-$50,000 in Chevron. Last week he criticized industries for “raking in record profits” while “sitting on 68 million acres of oil-rich federal land that they are not drilling.”
Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) has spoken out on “unjustifiable tax breaks for Big Oil” and the “astronomical earnings report of Exxon Mobil.”
He owns Exxon Mobil stock worth between $100,000 and $250,000 and Chevron stock worth between $50,000 and $100,000. He purchased additional stock in those companies last year.
Rep. David Price (D-N.C.) and his wife own shares of Chevron worth between $15,000 and $50,000 and Exxon Mobil worth between $250,000 and $500,000.
His spokesman, Paul Cox, said Price inherited the Exxon stock in 2000.
“Given Rep. Price’s voting record in opposition to the industry, I bet Exxon wishes it had fewer stockholders like David Price,” said Cox.
Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) has $15,000 to $50,000 worth of Exxon Mobil holdings and $1,000 to $15,000 invested in Conoco Phillips.
Sestak, who has told constituents he wants to eliminate $16.1 billion worth of tax benefits for oil and gas companies, said his financial holdings are “totally irrelevant” to his stance on energy issues. He said he inherited the Exxon stock from his father and would likely pass it along to his daughter.
Democratic Reps. Patrick Kennedy (R.I.), Carolyn McCarthy (N.Y.), Heath Shuler (N.C.), and Howard Berman (Calif.) also have investments in oil companies. They have each taken public stands against policies favored by the oil industry.
Rep. Jim Oberstar (D-Minn.), whose wife owns $50,000 to $100,000 worth of Exxon stock, has touted his efforts to fight oil companies’ manipulation of gas prices. Oberstar’s spokesman, John Schadl, said his boss does not tell his wife how to invest her money.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren’s (D-Calif.) spouse has retirement investments ranging from $1,000 to $15,000 each in BP and Chevron. Lofgren, who does not accept political contributions from the oil industry, said she asked her husband to request that his money managers steer clear of oil and tobacco companies.
Rep. Ron Klein (D-Fla.), an outspoken opponent of drilling off Florida’s coast, has an investment worth between $1,000 and $15,000 in Hornbeck Offshore Services. The company provides assistance on deepwater drilling projects, according to its website.
“This particular minor investment is one of several managed by outside financial advisers, and as is the case with all of his investments, has absolutely no bearing on Congressman Klein’s decisionmaking process or policy positions,” said Klein’s spokeswoman.
Reps. Rubén Hinojosa (D-Texas) and Charlie Melancon (D-La.) each own investments worth between $15,000 and $50,000 in Exxon Mobil. They have not criticized the industry as their colleagues have.