But Bass severed ties with Laidlaw upon his election to Congress, both Laidlaw CEO Michael Bartoszek and a Bass aide told Roll Call. The SEC order stemmed from unintentional “outdated information that appeared on our website and blog that we have since removed,” Bartoszek said in an email.
The Congressman’s ex-chief of staff, Darwin Cusack, now works for Laidlaw as its political and public relations adviser. Bass began serving in the House in 1995 and was defeated for re-election in 2006; he won a second stint in the House in 2010. In the interim, he also earned $94,250 as a consultant to Laidlaw Berlin BioPower, a former Laidlaw Energy Group affiliate, public records show.
Bass is hardly the only Member of Congress with controversial stock holdings or private-sector ties. As recently released personal financial disclosure reports attest, dozens of lawmakers invest in companies that fall under the jurisdiction of their committees, and some have dropped holdings that attracted bad press. Several Members dumped stock in BP and Transocean in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill last year, the Center for Responsive Politics recently reported.
Nor is there any prohibition on such investments. “Members of Congress are allowed to hold shares of common stocks, even if the companies in which they are investing give them campaign money, or lobby Congress, or otherwise do business before committees that have jurisdiction over them,” noted Dave Levinthal, communications director for CRP.