As former Speaker of the House of Representatives and now Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi has relied on the advice of her team of economic "experts" to formulate policy to create jobs and stimulate the economy. Roll Call reports Monday that one member of this critical team, William Hambrecht, was not only a professional acquaintance but also her son's boss and husband's business partner:
"At a time when the connection between a Member of Congress' personal finances and public role has been spotlighted by the proposed STOCK Act — which would prohibit lawmakers from trading on legislative knowledge — the case of Pelosi and her family's investment adviser is a reminder of how few rules exist to govern these relationships.
According to her personal financial disclosure form for 2010, Pelosi's husband, Paul, had holdings in more than a half-dozen companies tied to Hambrecht's investment banking firm WR Hambrecht + Co."
One of the investments with Hambrecht generated more than $100,000 in income for the Pelosi family last year. Another is the well-known $12 Hambrecht/Pelosi partnership in the struggling United Football League.
In addition to being family friends with the Pelosis for many years, including employing Paul Pelosi Jr. from 2009-2011, the Hambrechts have donated more than $2 million to Democratic campaigns and causes, according to the FEC.
Pelosi never disclosed her connection to Hambrecht as presenting him as an economics expert in May 2010, yet Roll Call reports that the speaker does not appear to have violated any laws or House rules.
The Office of Congressional Ethics concluded "there is substantial reason to believe that an appearance of conflict of interest was created" when Republican Missouri Rep. Sam Graves invited a friend who was invested in biofuels projects with the Congressman's wife to testify on renewable fuels issues before the Small Business Committee. The House Ethics Committee dismissed the case on the grounds that "No relevant House Rule or other standard of conduct prohibits creation of an appearance of conflict of interest when selecting witnesses for a committee hearing."