Last week, Nancy Pelosi insisted that extending unemployment benefits would, er, save or create 600,000 jobs, and insisted that experts in macroeconomics told her so. Who are the economic experts that advise Pelosi? According to Roll Call, Pelosi hauled a few of them up to Capitol Hill to support her economic policy, but didn’t disclose her relationship with at least one of them:
In May 2010, then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi took to a podium in the Capitol to introduce a half-dozen economic experts she had convened for a meeting on how to jump-start the economy. The group had met for several hours with top Democratic leaders, and Pelosi invited them to speak publicly on their perspectives on economic growth.
What Pelosi did not mention is that one of the men in the group was her son’s boss and a partner with her husband in more than a half-dozen investments, including one that generated more than $100,000 in income for the Speaker’s family last year.
It was the fourth time since 2007 that Pelosi had invited San Francisco investment banker William Hambrecht to be part of an economic policy forum on the Hill and the third time she appeared at a podium with him to speak to reporters. At none of those events did the then-Speaker reveal her financial ties to Hambrecht, and House rules did not require her to do so.
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.
How good of an economist is Hambrecht? One of the partnerships between Hambrecht and the Pelosis is the United Football League, which “competes” with the NFL in four markets without teams. The business plan apparently rested on the hope that the NFL and the NFLPA would endure a long strike/lockout when their CBA expired this year, and hoped to get some NFL stars to play in their league while the lockout remained in place. Unfortunately for the UFL, the NFL and the players ended up resolving their issues before the start of the season, and the UFL ended up remaining in oblivion.
Roll Call reports that most of the Pelosi/Hambrecht partnerships have been a bust, but not for the Democratic Party. Hambrecht has been a big donor to Democrats and the party, with more than $2 million in contributions in FEC records reviewed by Roll Call. Pelosi never disclosed any of this while presenting Hambrecht as an economics expert in May 2010, nor did she mention that her son Paul Jr worked for Hambrecht at the time, either — which might call into question the access to information that guides the Pelosis’ investments with Hambrecht.
None of this apparently violates any ethics rules in the House. However, the next time Pelosi talks about macroeconomics and job creation, consider who her sources are likely to be.