Exxon Shares Net No Profit for Carter

Posted October 20, 2009 at 6:33pm

Rep. John Carter (R-Texas) appears to have pulled off an unusual feat: selling more than $100,000 worth of Exxon Mobil Corp. stock — when it was selling at historic highs — without making a profit, according to financial disclosure forms filed by the Congressman.

Carter’s office says that the disclosure reports are accurate and that no capital gain is reported because no capital gain was made. Carter spokesman John Stone said that with stocks held over long periods of time, the wide fluctuations in the value of oil shares make it entirely plausible that Carter could have had a large sale without making a profit.

“You don’t have a story,— Stone said. “We checked with the accountant and [the forms] are correct.—

Stone suggested that Roll Call’s interest in the old disclosure forms was simply “political retaliation— for Carter’s resolutions to strip Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) of his gavel for an array of alleged ethics violations, including failing to properly report assets and income on his financial disclosure forms.

Since his days as a district judge in Texas, Carter has reported — first on his state disclosure forms going back to at least 1992 and later on his Congressional disclosure forms — one primary asset: shares of Exxon stock. On his first Congressional disclosure form in 2003, Carter indicated that the stock was worth $1 million to $5 million, and that is how he has reported it each year since.

In 2007, Carter reported that on Feb. 16, 2006, he sold Exxon stock in a transaction valued at $100,000 to $250,000. It was the first stock sale listed since he came to Congress in 2003, and there is no indication that he has purchased additional stock during that time. His disclosure for that year reports $15,000 to $50,000 in dividend income from his Exxon stock, but no capital gains.

Stone points out that there are two different Exxon stocks listed on the company’s Web site — and it is impossible to tell what stock Carter sold or when he acquired it.

But on the date that Carter made the sale, both stocks were selling for more than they had ever sold before 2002, according to historical tables maintained on the company’s Web site.

In May 2008, Carter reported that on Feb. 20, 2007, he again sold Exxon stock in a transaction valued at $100,000 to $250,000. Again, his disclosure form made no indication of any capital gains from the sale; the only income that he reported from the Exxon stock is $15,000 to $50,000 in dividends. That year Exxon paid out $1.37 per share in dividends, according to the company’s Web site, making the $15,000 to $50,000 a plausible range for Carter’s dividends.

After Roll Call called to inquire in July 2008 about that transaction, Carter filed an amendment noting that there were capital gains from that sale, but the amount of income that he reported remained $15,000 to $50,000.

Stone said Carter made one error on the original May 2008 disclosure report: That form included an Edward Jones brokerage account worth $250,000 to $500,000, with dividend income worth $5,000 to $15,000. The Edward Jones account is the brokerage account that holds the Exxon stock, Stone said, and the report was simply in error. A few weeks after the original report was filed, Carter filed an amendment eliminating the reference to Edward Jones.

In July 2006, the Austin American-Statesman reported that Carter’s Democratic challenger had accused him of a conflict of interest for holding Exxon stock while voting on issues critical to the oil industry. The newspaper reported that Carter said there was no conflict because “he’s never purchased or sold an Exxon Mobil share.—

Carter’s father was in the oil business, and Carter inherited his oil stocks when his father died, the paper explained. Carter’s father died after his son was already in Congress.

In April 1993, Carter reported on his state financial disclosure form that as of Dec. 31, 1992, he held 10,000 or more shares of Exxon stock.

Stone said the ethics committee has never raised a concern about Carter’s disclosure forms.

Jennifer Yachnin contributed to this report.