- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 4, 2004


Howard Dean sold $15,000 in stock in five Vermont banks in 1991 after becoming governor and getting what he says was an “inside report” from the state banking regulator.

“It became clear to me that information I might receive in the future as governor could present a possible conflict of interest,” Mr. Dean said in a statement yesterday in response to questions about the transaction.

Some Vermont banks were experiencing financial problems about the time that Mr. Dean became governor unexpectedly after the death of his predecessor, Richard Snelling, in August 1991.

Bank assets in the state declined from 1990 to 1991 and fell even more in the first part of the next year, dropping 1.7 percent through three quarters of 1992. Nonperforming loans doubled from 1987, to $239 million by the end of 1991.

The results were weakened capital positions, suspension of dividends and “plunging stock prices at almost all the large and medium-sized Vermont banks,” Vermont Business Magazine reported in December 1992.

Mr. Dean revealed his sale of the bank stocks in a 1994 interview with the same magazine, telling an interviewer that he sold his shares because the state official who regulates banks “came over one day and said, ‘Here’s the inside report on all the banks,’ and I went ‘Yikes.’”

Mr. Dean added a few details in yesterday’s statement, but did not characterize the nature of the “inside report.”

A Dean spokesman said that when the candidate returns from the campaign trail in a few days, he will go through his tax records to see whether he can ascertain the names of the bank stocks he owned.

“When I was working as a doctor and serving part time as lieutenant governor, I purchased approximately $15,000 of Vermont bank stocks,” Mr. Dean’s statement said. “As I volunteered to a Vermont Business Magazine reporter, I sold these stocks shortly after Governor Snelling died and I unexpectedly became governor when it became clear to me that information I might receive in the future as governor could present a possible conflict of interest.”

Dean spokesman Jay Carson said Mr. Dean’s thinking at the time was, “I didn’t know I had access to this type of information. Now that I do, I need to sell these stocks to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.”

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