Posted: 03/25/2014 10:21 am EDT Updated: 03/25/2014 11:47 am
MORE: Russia Sanctions Congress Russia Investments Congress Russia Dan Benishek Hal Rogers Jim Renacci Alan Grayson Kay Hagan Michael Mccaul Lois Frankel Politics News
WASHINGTON -- As members of Congress and the Obama administration scramble to respond to the increasing threat posed by the Russian military in Ukraine, economic sanctions are emerging as the United States' preferred method of exercising its leverage.
Late Monday, the Senate moved ahead on approving President Barack Obama's request to enact broad penalties in the future against Russian officials and businesspeople who are engaged in what the Treasury Department deems corruption, bribery or misuse of public funds. The House has passed a similar measure and is considering further steps in legislation scheduled for a markup Tuesday in the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
But for a half-dozen members of Congress, including three on the Foreign Affairs Committee, who hold significant amounts of stock in Russian companies, these sanctions could prove a sticky problem. A Huffington Post analysis of personal financial disclosure forms filed by lawmakers revealed that six members -- five representatives and one senator -- hold between them a total of as much as $800,000 worth of stock in Russian companies.
This stock includes corporations that have been floated recently as potential targets for international sanctions, including the Russian state-controlled gas giant Gazprom and the state-controlled Sberbank, Russia's largest bank. Holdings also include the Internet giant Yandex, the international wireless company Mobile Telesystems, and Russia's second largest oil company, Lukoil, which operates a chain of gas stations in the Eastern U.S.
Asked Monday by The Huffington Post about their investments, only one of the six lawmakers, Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Ohio), responded. The other five did not comment or ignored calls and emails from HuffPost about their holdings and their plans in the event that the U.S.-Russia relationship deteriorates further.
The refusal to comment on their investments in Russian companies underscores the sensitivity surrounding the personal wealth and investment portfolios of both senators and representatives in Washington. Earlier this year, the Center for Responsive Politics revealed that for the first time, more than half of all members of Congress had an average net worth of over $1 million.
Among the wealthiest is Texas Republican Rep. Mike McCaul, a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee whose estimated net worth in 2013 was at least $114 million. Compared to most of his colleagues, McCaul is an especially active investor, buying and selling stock in dozens of companies every month, according to his public financial transaction reports. His 2012 annual report was over 100 pages long, and revealed McCaul's investment in Russian oil company Lukoil. McCaul bought or sold Lukoil 18 times in 2012, in transactions worth between $1,001 and $15,000 in most cases, and $15,001 and $50,000 in three instances.
I know, huffypost, but no one else is talking about this. I had no idea Hagan acquired so much wealth since getting into government.
"The Tea Party has a right to feel cheated.
When does the Republican Party, put in the majority by the Tea Party, plan to honor its commitment to halt the growth of the Federal monolith and bring the budget back into balance"?