Mourdock will keep energy stocks if elected to Senate

April 26, 2012

Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock has no plans to divest his energy-centric stock holdings if he’s elected to the U.S. Senate.

Mourdock, who is challenging Republican Sen. Richard Lugar in the May 8 primary, held six different energy-related stocks last year, according to his most recent filing with the Indiana Inspector General.

The stocks, all worth at least $10,000, were Exxon Mobile Corp., Occidental Petroleum Corp., Spectra Energy Corp., Vectren Corp., Duke Energy Corp. and Apache Corp.

It’s common for members of Congress to own individual stocks. In fact, the financial rewards they have reaped through immunity from insider-trading laws drove passage earlier this month of the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act, which ends that privilege and requires major transactions to be reported within 45 days.

“We’ve documented that members of Congress are active traders in the stock market,” said Craig Holman, government-affairs lobbyist at the left-leaning consumer advocacy group Public Citizen in Washington, D.C. “They’re most active in industries where they have oversight.”

Indiana’s senators have very different profiles when it comes to publicly traded investments.

Lugar’s only publicly traded stocks are mutual funds, a practice that goes back to the beginning of his public-service career as mayor of Indianapolis, spokesman Andy Fisher said. Other assets he reported to the U.S. Senate in 2010 included a stake in the Lugar family farm.

The Center for Responsive Politics, a non-partisan research group, estimates Lugar’s net worth at $283,000 to $1 million, based on his personal finance disclosure with the U.S. Senate.

Sen. Dan Coats, whose net worth is estimated at $2.8 million to $6.8 million, held stock in 10 companies, plus options for Allison Transmission Holdings Inc. in 2010. Coats’ holdings represented a range of industries.

A geologist from Vanderburgh County who has been treasurer since 2007, Mourdock is the most active stock investor among state agency chiefs. The only other stock reported by his colleagues last year was Eli Lilly and Co., held by Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman and Attorney General Greg Zoeller, who noted that he received it as a bequest from his father-in-law. (Gov. Mitch Daniels' publicly traded assets are held in a blind trust.)

Mourdock declined through his spokesman to talk about his stock holdings, or how he might handle potential conflicts of interest as a senator.

“Most of the investments held by Mr. Mourdock consist of publicly traded stocks in large companies as well as various mutual funds,” spokesman Chris Conner said in an e-mail. “Treasurer Mourdock has complied with state ethics rules in disclosing these investments and avoiding any conflicts and will comply with any Senate ethics rules regarding these investments if elected to the Senate.”

Mourdock owned individual company stocks worth $235,000 to $750,000 in 2010, according to his disclosure to the Senate. That didn't include mutual funds, bank accounts and other private assets, such as a royalty interest in 2,800 acres, which he listed as worth less than $1,000.

Lugar’s campaign is raising questions about two holdings that Mourdock didn’t disclose with in his state filing. Mourdock owns shares of Global Energy Inc., a private firm, and USA Synthetic Fuel Corp.

The related firms, both based in Cincinnati, develop coal and coke gasification plants. A Global Energy subsidiary owns the Wabash River Plant near Terre Haute, while USA Synthetic is behind a stalled project in Lima, Ohio.

Mourdock’s personal finance disclosure to the Senate says the shares, combined, were worth $150,000 to $350,000 in 2010.

Fisher, Lugar’s spokesman, said Mourdock didn’t “properly disclose” those holdings to Indiana, which requires disclosure of any stock worth $10,000 or more. (The disclosure is the subject of a citizen’s ethics complaint.)

“Was there some reason he did not properly disclose some of the companies?” Fisher asked. He noted that Global Energy and USA Synthetic would benefit from cap-and-trade emissions regulations, “which would be contrary to the views he’s been expressing as a conservative.”

Conner said there are good reasons Mourdock didn’t include the synthetic fuels firms on his Indiana disclosure. By the 2011 reporting period, his USA Synthetic stock wasn’t marketable, and its value later fell below the state’s $10,000 value threshold, he said.

Mourdock received shares of Global Energy in 2005 in exchange for consulting work for which the company couldn’t pay, Conner said. In 2010, he and other Global Energy shareholders received USA Synthetic shares in an exchange that was part of USA Synthetic's going public. The company, which is traded over-the-counter, went public through a reverse merger.

It's impossible to say exactly what Mourdock's current stock holdings are, or their value. Indiana requires officials to report stocks held at any time during the year and does not ask for an estimated value.

Mourdock reported that he held shares of Baxter International, Eli Lilly and Co., Fedex Corp. and Proctor and Gamble in 2011, but Conner said he sold “several” of his non-energy stocks last August because he was concerned about market volatility.


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