It is difficult to imagine a more unlikely pair of investors than House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens. Pelosi, the San Francisco Democrat, is among the most liberal and pro-environmentalist politicians in Congress, while Pickens has long been associated with Republicans, hedge funds and the energy industry. Yet in May 2007, Pelosi invested between $100,001 and $250,000 to purchase public common stock in Pickens’ Clean Energy Fuels Corp.
CLNE is a cog in Pickens’ $6 billion plan to build a massive wind farm in west Texas and to switch millions of vehicles on American roads from gasoline to natural gas. Pelosi’s CLNE purchase is listed on her most recent congressional personal financial disclosure form, which can be viewed at www.opensecrets.org.
A search of Pelosi’s official Web site found no announcement of the investment in the Pickens operation. A request to the Pelosi’s official representative for information about the investment went unanswered. Coincidentally, Pelosi’s investment came the same month as the House passed the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007, which she hailed as making Congress “the most open and honest in history.”
There are numerous ways Pelosi could provide assistance to CLNE and Pickens, including helping secure federal tax advantages. Pickens expects at least 15 percent profits on the wind farm and associated initiatives. At CLNE’s $14 per share value, Pelosi appears to own between 7,000 and 17,000 shares.
Then there is the property Pelosi and her husband once owned that is now listed as the possession of a Pelosi campaign donor, Joseph E. Seagram & Son. The property — at 3030 K St. NW in the Georgetown section of Washington, D.C. — was bought from Seagram for $650,000 in 1999 by Pelosi and her husband, Paul. Seagram was the source of a $4,500 contribution to Pelosi’s 1998 re-election campaign. Today, however, Paul Pelosi alone is listed in the D.C. government’s property- tax database as the owner of a condo — Unit 214 — at the Georgetown address.
Also listed in that database as the owner of a residential-condo-garage at the address is Seagram, with a San Francisco mailing address of 235 Montgomery St. Also located at that San Francisco address is the Paul and Nancy Pelosi Charitable Foundation, a tax-exempt educational organization that claimed in its most recent tax return to own nearly $700,000 in corporate stocks.
There may be reasonable explanations for these matters, but Speaker Pelosi should provide detailed answers if she expects to be taken seriously on congressional ethics and transparency.