Since becoming chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee in January, Representative Dave Camp has invited executives from 13 publicly traded companies to testify on tax and trade policy. The chairman owned shares in six of them.
Camp, a 57-year-old Michigan Republican, owned stocks and bonds issued by dozens of individual companies, according to his annual personal financial disclosure form, which was filed June 15 and covers the year ending Dec. 31, 2010.
So far this year, executives from United Technologies Corp., Caterpillar Inc., Procter & Gamble Co., Ford Motor Co., FedEx Corp. and Zimmer Holdings Inc. have testified before his panel. The chief financial officers of United Technologies, Caterpillar and Zimmer testified May 12 on burdens that the tax code imposes on U.S. multinational companies.
“To try to pull off this image of holding an impartial educational hearing and then bring in the very same executives representing the companies in which you have a personal investment, that’s not something I hear very often,” said Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen.
Camp’s decision to invite representatives of the companies to appear at Ways and Means is a conflict of interest that doesn’t break the law or House rules, said Holman, whose Washington-based advocacy group supports stronger campaign finance and lobbying laws.
Timing of Purchases
Camp spokeswoman Megan Piwowar declined to discuss the timing of Camp’s stock purchases and sales and other decision-making in his investment portfolio, as well as how decisions were made on issuing invitations to testify before the Ways and Means Committee.
“The report is filed in full compliance with House rules and speaks for itself,” Piwowar said in an e-mail yesterday.
In response to a question on another subject, Camp said yesterday in Washington that it was important to hear businesses’ perspective on tax policy.
“We’re actually doing a novel thing,” he said at a meeting of chief financial officers sponsored by the Wall Street Journal. “We’re having employers and job creators tell us what they think we ought to do.”
Holman said that hearings with executives from companies in which Camp owns shares don’t serve the public interest of seeking a broad range of opinions on policy.
“We might as well just listen to Dave Camp,” Holman said. “Why do we bother bringing in anyone else?”
Camp’s annual financial disclosure filing shows he had holdings in eight of the 15 companies in a coalition of U.S. multinational businesses lobbying Congress for a tax break on profits earned overseas. Those in Camp’s portfolio were Apple Inc., Cisco Systems Inc., Devon Energy Corp., EMC Corp., Google Inc., Microsoft Corp., Pfizer Inc. and Oracle Corp. All are advocating a repatriation tax holiday.
Camp bought and sold shares in dozens of stocks in 2010, according to the report. He made nine separate purchases of Procter & Gamble, eight purchases of American Express Co. and seven purchases of The Coca-Cola Co. On six occasions, he bought shares of Visa Inc., and on three occasions, he sold Visa shares.
His largest single stock holding was in Dow Chemical Co., in which he held between $250,001 and $500,000. The company is based in Camp’s hometown of Midland, Michigan.
Federal lawmakers report their finances in income ranges. Camp’s report for 2010 shows assets of between $4.21 million and $10.3 million. His report for 2009 shows assets of between $2.97 million and $10.5 million.
The biggest change in the period was the transfer of assets out of a trust that listed Camp’s father-in-law, Robert Keil, as the grantor. He died in 2010.
Disclosure reports for House and Senate members’ 2010 finances were due in mid-May and most were publicly disclosed on June 15. Camp received a brief extension.