At least 60 members of Congress currently hold stock in several news companies across the country, according to a story released by opensecrets.org, The Center for Responsive Politics last week. The story exposed these congressmen as hidden investors in media companies, questioning their motives and the impact that this may have on these newsrooms.
“Many members of Congress actually have a vested interest -- beyond just their political careers -- in the performance of the same organizations that are supposed to be their watchdogs,” according to opensecrets.org. The article cites at least 19 media sources that are recipients of these investments, with at least 7 of these investments worth a minimum of $100,000.
“This is an investigation that we spent a couple of weeks on,” Dave Levinthal, Communications Director and Editor of opensecrets.org told INN. “We had some indication that members of Congress had been investing in news corporations, and this is of concern to a lot of people in the sense that high-ranking officials in government have financial stakes--in some cases major financial stakes--in the very companies that are supposed to be serving as their watchdogs.”
The Congressmen with media investments include almost an equal amount of both Democrats and Republicans, such as John Kerry (D-Mass, Richard Burr (R-N.C), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) and Kenny Marchant (R-Texas).
“At the end of the day we wanted to shine a light on this practice and give people the opportunity to see if their member of Congress is personally engaged in this type of investment activity,” said Levinthal. “It’s up to the public to decide for themselves whether they consider this to be okay or something that might not be appropriate.”