Well, there she goes again. Former Speaker of the House, the woman who promised to clean-up Congress has once again been caught not being entirely transparent with Americans. Apparently when Ms Pelosi drags “economic experts” to Capital Hill to meet with congressional leaders and to speak publicly about how to get the economy moving, one of her usual participants coincidentally just happens to be her son’s boss and an investment partner of her husband’s (but of course that couldn’t have skewed his testimony right?)
According to Roll Call
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.
But this isn’t about house rules, this is about being honest with the public.
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.
The best-known Hambrecht/Pelosi partnership is the struggling United Football League.
An October 2009 Washington Post story reported that Paul Pelosi had purchased a team in Hambrecht’s nascent league for $12 million. The article was published four days before Hambrecht participated in another of Pelosi’s economic forums. After that four-hour meeting, Pelosi introduced Hambrecht and several other “leading economists” at a news conference, saying, “They’re going to tell you some of their forecasts that they told us about — some of the options that we may have in investments, in tax policy, in budgetary overview, on how we create jobs in the most fiscally sound way,” according to a CQ transcript.
Again, Pelosi did not mention her family’s investments with Hambrecht.
According to Pelosi’s disclosure form, most of the Hambrecht-linked investments produced losses or very little income last year except for one — an investment worth $5 million to $25 million in an investment firm called Matthews International Capital Management. The firm, partly owned by Hambrecht, specializes in Asian investments and earned Paul Pelosi somewhere from $100,000 to $1 million in income last year. Paul Pelosi also maintained a brokerage account with Hambrecht’s firm last year worth $500,000 to $1 million.
Setting up Hambrecht as an independent expert without disclosing that he is also her husbands partner is at the very least dishonest. One of family investments seems to have influenced he selection of bills to advance (also not against house rules).
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.”
Pelosi doesn’t support the NAT GAS act, but she does support a different less generous bill that would still help her family investment:
In May, Pelosi led other House Democrats in unveiling two energy bills, including one proposed by Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) that incorporated some of the provisions of the NAT GAS Act but was less generous to the natural-gas vehicle industry.
Hammill explained, “In our Make It in America initiative, we included a much smaller portion of the NAT GAS Act — only costing $1.4 billion — to make investments so that we have a tax credit for heavy natural-gas vehicles and heavy hybrid vehicles.”
Pelosi’s endorsement of the bill, and even a vote in favor of it, would not violate House rules either because the House bars Members from voting only on matters in which they have “a direct personal or pecuniary interest.” The Ethics Committee has interpreted that prohibition to apply only when a Member would be the sole beneficiary of a Congressional action, not when the Member would profit as part of a group of beneficiaries. In this case, Pelosi is supporting legislation that would boost all natural-gas vehicle companies, and all investors in those companies, not just her family’s investment.
Pelosi’s spokesman said that her support of the bills have nothing to do with her husband’s investments, but then what else can he say.