- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 15, 2011

New House Speaker John A. Boehner doesn’t have as many millions as his predecessor, Nancy Pelosi, but like many new committee chairmen and other leaders, he has holdings in companies that have major financial stakes in the actions of Congress.

For Mr. Boehner, that includes a portfolio of stocks in oil companies, financial firms, communication companies and pharmaceuticals. Holdings among other lawmakers include farmland, real estate and investments in high tech companies.

None of this is violates congressional ethics rules. The rules state that members can’t use their official positions for personal gain and limits to $26,100 what they can earn as a director of a business or for actual work performed outside Congress. They, however, do not limit personal investments, a source of considerable wealth for many lawmakers.

Mr. Boehner, a Republican and son of an Ohio bar owner, derives much of his nest egg from his career as a small businessman before coming to Congress more than two decades ago, said his spokesman, Michael Steel. “Boehner’s day-to-day investment decisions are made by a professional financial adviser. He is not consulted on individual transactions,” Mr. Steel said.

Likewise, Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, Texas Republican, said an account manager makes all the decisions for a portfolio of more than $1 million that he and his wife hold. He made 599 trades last year involving companies such as Apple Computer, Microsoft, Dreamworks Animation and Lockheed Martin.

In 2009, Mr. Boehner sold a retirement plan in the plastics company he once ran, taking in between $1 million and $5 million. He then purchased shares in almost 60 companies, including stock in BP, Exxon, Chevron, ConocoPhilips and Occidental. His holdings in each of them are valued at between $15,000 and $50,000.

In 2010, he listed 121 transactions in which he bought or sold investments. He listed as major assets four mutual and IRA funds worth between $100,001 and $250,000 each and 12 investments valued from $50,001 to $100,000 each.

All members of Congress must file the annual forms that list their major sources of earned and unearned income, primary assets and liabilities and privately funded gifts. In 2010 rank-and-file members received salaries of $174,000. As speaker last year, Mrs. Pelosi received $223,500 and House and Senate majority and minority leaders got $193,400.

Mr. Boehner’s wealth pales compared to that of the House’s chief investigator, Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, California Republican.

Mr. Issa, who invented the Viper car alarm system, is among the richest members of Congress with holdings of at least $150 million and possibly approaching $500 million. This year, Mr. Issa reported two investments that were each worth more than $50 million, a Putnam High Yield Trust Fund and a company that owns and manages properties in five California cities and Cincinnati. He lists four other mutual funds or holdings in property companies worth $25 million to $50 million each. Mr. Issa’s jurisdiction as the oversight committee chairman is so vast that it could potentially conflict with almost any source of income, and Mr. Issa avoids any appearance of a problem by not owning individual stocks.

His disclosure form included mention of $825 from each of two appearances on the Bill Maher show that he donated to charity.

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