Written by Andrew Kreighbaum and Summer Lollie
At least seven members of Congress reported holding a minimum of $15,000 in BP stock at the end of 2009, according to a preliminary analysis of personal financial disclosure reports by the Center for Responsive Politics.
The Clerk of the House and Secretary of the Senate on Wednesday released reports covering the personal financial activities of members of Congress and their families for 2009. The Center's preliminary investigation focused on the reports of the 20 members of Congress who reported earning income from BP holdings or owning BP stock in 2008.
Of these, the seven who reported holding more than $15,000 in BP stock were: Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.), Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) and Sen. Ted Kaufman (D-Del.).
Furthermore, at least one member of Congress bought five-figures worth of BP stock in 2009, the Center's preliminary analysis found: Rep. Vernon Buchanan (R-Fla.).
In addition to becoming politically toxic, BP stock has seen its value drop by half since April 20, when an oil rig it operated exploded in the Gulf of Mexico. The disaster has since caused millions of gallons of fossil fuels to leak into the surrounding waters.
At least one congressmen who owned BP stock in 2009 said he has since sold it off.
"Senator Gregg no longer owns any BP stock," spokeswoman Laena Fallon told OpenSecrets Blog.
Fallon did not elaborate on when or why he sold the stock.
Sensenbrenner, an heir of Kimberly-Clark, reported at least $100,000 in BP stock. (Disclosure rules only require lawmakers to reveal the value of their assets and liabilities in broad ranges, not exact amounts). In 2008, he had a net worth of about $13 million, ranking him 30 in the House.
Spokeswoman Wendy Riemann said the congressman inherited stock in Amoco in 1978, before the company was bought by BP. He has no plans to sell it, Riemann said.
Kerry's wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, held a minimum of $350,000 in BP stock at the end of 2009, according to Kerry's newly released financial report. He, himself, owns only between $1,001 and $15,000 in BP, according to his office -- although his reports notes only assets held by his wife.
Kerry spokeswoman Whitney Smith said the senator has no plans to sell off his small holding in BP stock, which he inherited in a family trust.
"Senator Kerry has been the Senate's best environmental champion for more than 25 years and has written and urged legislation to end our dependence on foreign oil," Smith said.
Smith added Kerry's stockholdings in BP would not impact his vote on pending legislation.
"Inherited holdings in family trusts he has no control over whatsoever clearly have no impact on his fight for a green economy and a clean environment," she said. "Indeed, by that standard, he's cast scores of votes against his own economic interests, and these industries have spent millions against him in political and legislative campaigns."
The offices of Reps. Buchanan and Upton and Sens. Kaufman and Brownback did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday. Rep. Frelinghuysen's investment in BP was discovered after business hours Wednesday, and his office could not be reached for comment.