Virginia Legislators’ Conflicts Disclosures Reveal Some Interesting Tidbits

Virginia Legislators’ Conflicts Disclosures Reveal Some Interesting Tidbits

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At the suggestion of a Virginia elected official, I took a  look at VPAP for the latest Conflicts of Interest Disclosure for members of the Virginia General Assembly. There’s a ton of information in there, and I only looked for about an hour, but here’s some stuff that jumped out at me.

First, can someone explain to me how a legislator can own less than $215K of Berkshire Hathaway? One share costs $215K, yet 6-7 legislators said they owned less that that. Weird.

Then there are all of these people who say their stock is “name of brokerage account,” even though what you’re required to list is specific investments, not just a brokerage account. As a Virginia Democratic friend of mine put it, “It’s not a f***ing net worth disclosure.” For instance, these are examples of doing it totally wrong:

  • Del. Tim Hugo (R): Putnam Investments, Gabelli Funds, Blackrock…but individual investments in companies not listed out.
  • Del. Dave Albo (R): American Funds, Paychex Inc., Folio Investing…again, no individual companies broken out.
  • Sen. Chap Petersen (D): Fidelity Investments, SunTrust, T.Rowe Price…but no individual stocks listed.

There are many other examples of this; the aforementioned are simply examples, not particularly egregious or anything, just typical.

Now here’s an example of doing it correctly: Sen. Dick Saslaw (D) of all people lists out individual companies he’s invested in — Citibank, Microsoft, Sirius, Teva Pharmaceuticals, etc.

Finally, here are a few other interesting items that popped out at me.

  • Del. Terry Kilgore (R-Gate City) spells his home town incorrectly, as “Gale City,” three times on his conflicts disclosure. Also note Kilgore’s “Taxpayer-Funded Trips / Meetings” to the ALEC Annual in San Diego (cost to taxpayers: $2,108.23).
  • House Speaker Bill “ALEC” Howell (R-ALEC) predictably lists the ALEC annual meeting in San Diego under “Taxpayer-Funded Trips / Meetings.”
  • Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment (R) reports “that his associates received payments for representing clients before the following state agencies” (a loooong list of stage regulatory and other agencies follows).
  • Rabid anti-LGBT bigot and anti-abortion activist Sen. Dick Black owns stock in many companies that are gay friendly, from Walt Disney to Coca Cola and many others. Black also owns stock in Johnson & Johnson, a supporter of both LGBT equality and Planned Parenthood.
  • The list of “Lawmakers’ Favorite Stocks” shows nine legislators owning Dominion Power stock — including Dominion CEO Thomas Farrell’s son, Del. Peter Farrell. And five legislators, including our friend Peter Farrell again, own stock in climate-science-denying, earth-destroying ExxonMobil, a company that’s currently being investigated for possibly massive fraud in knowing for decades that its product, used as directed, causes planet-killing global warming, yet spending millions of dollars to fund a massive climate science denial effort.

In my mind, a lot of this stuff constitutes examples of “legalized corruption,” a system in which legislators vote on all kinds of stuff impacting the very companies and organizations they accept free trips from, own stock and other investments in, etc. It’s the “Virginia Way,” I guess. Or something.

By the way, I’m sure there’s a ton more interesting stuff in here; this is just a short sample. So…let us know if you find anything else that jumps out at you. Thanks.

  • precinct1233

    There are actually two Berkshire Hathaway share types–one that’s super-expensive (BRK.A), and one that represents a 1/1500th (BRK.B) of that super-expensive share, which is about $144.17 today.

    • http://www.bluevirginia.us/ lowkell

      OK, maybe that’s the answer. Thanks.

  • David Poole

    While some handwritten forms are hard to decipher, VPAP should have known that Del. Kilgore would own real estate in Gate City, not “Gale City.” This was a typo on our end.

    • http://www.bluevirginia.us/ lowkell

      Thanks for letting us know.

  • Dave Arlington

    I looked through the examples above, and almost all appear to be mutual funds.