Roll Call staff reporter Paul Singer applied pressure on Rep. John Carter to clarify how he could have made no profit on a 2007 stock transaction. In the space of a single day, that pressure has resulted in Carter admitting he has income disclosure problems. On Wednesday, Singer wrote:
Rep. John Carter (R-Texas) appears to have pulled off an unusual feat: selling more than $100,000 worth of Exxon Mobil Corp. stock — when it was selling at historic highs — without making a profit, according to financial disclosure forms filed by the Congressman.
Carter’s office says that the disclosure reports are accurate and that no capital gain is reported because no capital gain was made. Carter spokesman John Stone said that with stocks held over long periods of time, the wide fluctuations in the value of oil shares make it entirely plausible that Carter could have had a large sale without making a profit.
“You don’t have a story,” Stone said. “We checked with the accountant and [the forms] are correct.” [Emphasis added].
Today, Singer reports, “Carter Refiling Disclosure Forms to List Exxon Profits.”
Rep. John Carter (R-Texas) acknowledged Wednesday that he failed to disclose nearly $300,000 in profits from the sale of Exxon stock in 2006 and 2007, and his office said he will file amended financial disclosure forms with the House ethics committee as soon as possible.
Singer reports that this is the second time that Carter has filed amended financial disclosure forms with the House ethics committee after Roll Call raised questions about the accuracy and completeness of his reports. One year ago, Roll Call contacted Carter’s office to ask questions about two transactions involving shares of ExxonMobil stock (XOM) Carter received from his father. Roll Call is reporting that a 2006 sale netted Carter $199,000, and the following year a second stock sale produced $97,000 in profit.
The House ethics committee requires members to disclose their personal finances to make it more difficult for Representatives to conceal potential conflicts of interest.
Among the numerous shortcomings of the House ethics enforcement mechanism is that it relies on members to file complaints against one another. Members have at times avoided raising concerns about other members’ reporting because often a member who complains about another’s disclosures finds that errors in his own numbers are subsequently brought to light.
Carter has been the point man for Republicans seeking to strip Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) of his gavel because of an ongoing ethics committee investigation of his finances. Rangel has admitted to making myriad errors on his financial disclosure forms over the years, failing to report hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of assets and income.
By our reckoning, Carter is oh-for-two on accurately reporting his Exxon stock transactions. One might not describe that as “making myriad errors”, but the size of the two mistakes, $300,000, is roughly equivalent to all the gains Carter is accusing Rangel of omitting. That doesn’t excuse Rangel or vindicate him. However, it does show that Carter is afflicted with a degree of blindness to his own transgressions. Otherwise, he might have taken a less visible role in trying to bring Rangel down.
This lack of self-awareness explains a lot about John Carter. It leads to a superiority complex that permeates his staff. Look at the initial belligerent rebuttals offered by Carter spokesman John Stone Wednesday. There was no apology offered Thursday for the misinformation delivered the day before. Carter, through Stone, did at least thank Roll Call for their efforts.
After investigating the matter more thoroughly Wednesday, spokesman John Stone said in an e-mail, “Congressman Carter thanks Roll Call for bringing this to his attention, and for reporting that he did accurately report the sales of his stock, just not the amount of the sales….
One can only hope Carter will be humbled by this, but it is not likely to come to pass. Carter’s attacks on Rangel aim to paint all Democrats as corrupt. Ultimately, the Republicans hope to use Rangel to their political advantage in 2010. It would be highly surprising if this incident altered those plans at all.
One can almost hear the justifications being discussed in the back rooms on Capitol Hill right now. Republicans will claim that Carter’s were errors of omission, and that they involve personal financial dealings that are entirely separate from his official duties as a United States Representative. They’ll argue that Rangel is a crook, peddling influence.
However, when one looks at Carter’s solid pro-API voting record, his ethical lapses hint at deception. In 2006, when Carter was pocketing $199,000 in profit, he was voting against rolling back $5 billion in oil industry tax breaks. In 2007, when he was depositing another $97,000 in gains, he was in the minority voting against legislation to address climate change (HR3221 and HR6).
Carter and the Republicans will keep trying to shift the focus on Rangel’s ethical challenges, but there’s a clear record of Carter voting his own personal financial best interest, then mistakenly failing to properly disclose the gains. Such behavior is reprehensible and reflects poorly on the office he holds. The question is when voters in Texas’ 31st Congressional District will correct the repeated mistake of electing this hypocrite to represent us.
— dembones contributed to this report.