OpenSecrets almost gets to the point of the matter: Third district Congressman Erik Paulsen is pushing the interests of companies that aren't just big in Minnesota, but show up in his own personal stock portfolio.
Last week's House passage of H.R. 436, the Health Care Cost Reduction Act, was a victory for Rep. Erik Paulsen, its sponsor. And the Minnesota Republican's political success may provide a boost to his investment portfolio, as well.
The bill, if passed by the Senate and signed into law, would repeal the excise tax on medical devices included in President Barack Obama's health care law. And among the devices it would apply to would be those sold by two medical device companies that Paulsen owns stock in, according to newly released congressional financial disclosures.
Those disclosures are part of the push from the STOCK Act, a victory for First district Democrat Tim Walz, which focused on insider trading by members of Congress and forces disclosure of exactly these kinds of relationships between Congresscritters and the companies whose interests they push in Washington.
Paulsen praised the STOCK Act's passage, but only after the Republican House majority managed to significantly weaken the bill's provisions. Unsurprisingly.
When these disclosures were released earlier this month, it was noted that direct ownership of shares in these companies is unusual for public figures. Why? Because it leads to exactly these types of questions about conflicts of interest. Mutual funds are great because they outsource the management of one's portfolio to a fund manager, and there's at least a layer of plausible deniability when it comes to elected officials' policy decisions. It's not like an investor can't know the companies in which one's mutual funds are invested, but good luck pressuring a fund manager to make investment decisions based on political hackery.
Paulsen seems to have no such problems with the appearance or existence of conflicts of interest with his own investments, which says something about the arrogance lurking just under his aw-shucks exterior.