Monday, October 09, 2006

How the Other Half Lives

Sen. George Allen, R-Virginia, is in a tight re-election race with James Webb, who served the Reagan Administration but who has since joined the growing list of ex-Republicans who are fed up with what passes for the Republican party today. Allen has been in hot water over questions about whether he has a racist past. But CNN is reporting today that he may now be in hot water for failing to disclose stock options:

Congressional rules require senators to disclose to the Senate all deferred compensation, such as stock options. The rules also urge senators to avoid taking any official action that could benefit them financially or appear to do so.

Those requirements exist so the public can police lawmakers for possible conflicts of interest, especially involving companies with government business that lawmakers can influence.

Allen's stock options date to the period from January 1998 to January 2001 when Allen was between political jobs and had plunged into the corporate world.

An Associated Press review of Allen's financial dealings from that era found that the senator:

• Did not have to look far to find corporate suitors, joining three Virginia high-tech companies he assisted as governor. Allen served on boards of directors for Xybernaut and Commonwealth Biotechnologies and advised a third company called Com-Net Ericsson, all government contractors.

• Twice failed to promptly alert the Securities and Exchange Commission of insider stock transactions as a Xybernaut and Commonwealth director. The SEC requires timely notification and can fine those who file late.

• Kept stock options provided to him for serving as a director of Xybernaut and Commonwealth, but steered other compensation from his board service to his law firm.

Allen is claiming that since the stock prices of the companies involved has been lower than the price of his options, he didn't think there was a need to report. Except there was this:

In interviews, Allen and his staff sought to play down his corporate dealings, saying they were a good learning experience but did not lead to extraordinary riches -- except for a quarter-million-dollar windfall from Com-Net Ericsson stock.

Just a little quarter-million-dollar windfall.

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