Rep. Pelosi Investment
9:53 pm November 3, 2011, by Jamie Dupree
Is there a major news organization investigating the financial investments of House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and House Speaker John Boehner? It sure seemed that way at Thursday's regular news briefings by party leaders on Capitol Hill.
I was working on other stories at the time, but the questions - and answers - caught my ear, as Steve Kroft, the veteran correspondent for the CBS program "60 Minutes" was pressing Pelosi about some of her investments.
Kroft is not a regular in the Capitol, so his presence and his questions certainly merit some attention.
Here is the transcript:
Q: Madam Leader, I wanted to ask you why you and your husband back in March of 2008 accepted and participated in a very large IPO deal from Visa at a time there was major legislation affecting the credit card companies making its way through the House. Did you consider that to be a conflict of interest?
Leader Pelosi. I don't know what your point is of your question. Is there some point that you want to make with that?
Q: Well, I guess what I am asking is do you think it is all right for a Speaker to accept a very preferential, favorable stock deal?
Leader Pelosi. Well, we didn't.
Q: At a time when there is major legislation affecting that company in the House?
Leader Pelosi. Well, first of all let me say this. What we are talking about is an industry. What we are talking about is a Congress that passed more protections for credit card holders. The [Credit Cardholder’s Bill of Rights] bill, you know Carolyn Maloney has been our champion on, to the point where the industry spent $3 million to try to defeat her last time.
So the issue that you are talking about, first of all, what you are contending is not true. But second of all, we are very proud of our record of what happened.
Now, what Congressman or Senator Durbin was able to do in the Senate is quite remarkable, and when he was able to achieve that, then it was on this same issue, it was included by our Chairman Barney Frank in the bill.
Q: That was 2 years later though.
Leader Pelosi. But it was when we had a President who could sign the bill, and that is when we passed what Carolyn Maloney had. There was no interest on the part of President Bush to sign such a bill. But the fact is your basic premise is a false one, and it…
Q: I don't understand. Why is it false? You participated in the IPO.
Leader Pelosi. Well, I have many investments.
Q: You were Speaker of the House, and there was a bill very unfavorable to the credit card companies.
Leader Pelosi. Well, I will hold my record in fighting the credit card companies, as a Speaker of the House or as a Member of Congress, up against anyone. We had passed the Credit Cardholder Bill of Rights. I don't know what your point is. You like one bill better than another bill. No, this was the big powerful bill, and in fact we were able to achieve both once we were able to have a Democratic President. That is really all I am saying.
Q: You don't think it was a conflict of interest or have the appearance of a conflict of interest?
Leader Pelosi. No, it only has the appearance if you decide that you are going to elaborate on a false premise. But it is not true, and that is that.
Q: I don't understand what part is not true.
Leader Pelosi. That I would act upon an investment.
It wasn't immediately clear what type of story this related to, but these kind of questions are definitely not normal for a regular briefing by any member of the Congressional leadership, indicating that "60 Minutes" has been digging into this issue.
After the Pelosi news conference, a similar investment question was asked of Speaker John Boehner; he responded that he does not make any decisions on his own portfolio, saying that's been out of his hands for years.
Q: Mr. Boehner, do you believe that members of Congress, particularly members of the leadership should be allowed to trade in stocks at a time when the companies they’re trading have major interests before the body?
Boehner: I think there are plenty of rules of the House and certainly rules from the SEC that members should follow and I believe do follow.
Q: You made a number of trades going back to the health care debate; you bought some insurance stock right before you declared the public option dead. Did you make those trades based on non-public information?
Boehner: I have not made any decisions on day-to-day trading activities in my account and haven’t for years – I do not do it, haven’t done it and would not do it.
Only "60 Minutes" knows if they have a real story, but if they took the time to send a correspondent to the Pelosi and Boehner briefings at the Capitol, that could well mean they are in hot pursuit of something, because Steve Kroft does not attend regular news conferences like these on Thursday.
Pelosi's past investments have brought some press, but a "60 Minutes" story would certainly ratchet up the attention.