Last month, I wrote about how Republican Dan Benishek, the Congressman from Michigan’s 1st Congressional District, had broken his promise not to run for a fourth term by pandering to military veterans. The true reasons for his decision to renege on his promise weren’t clear but his hypocritical pandering was blatant and nauseating.
Evidence has now come to light that suggests Benishek’s motivations may be more nefarious. A review of recent financial reports shows that Benishek used his government account to pay for a subscription to Investor’s Business Daily (IBD) on 12/25/13 for $411. Benishek’s office also spent another $580.57 on “publication/reference material” from IBD with service dates from 2/11/2015 through 3/04/2017.
IBD is, at its core, a stock tip service. On their website, they describe themselves in this way:
Since 1984, Investor’s Business Daily (IBD) has been helping ordinary people achieve extraordinary results. […]
Over the last quarter-century, countless investors have paid off their homes, put their children through college and built the foundation for a worry-free retirement, by following IBD’s CAN SLIM strategy for growing – and protecting – their money.
Benishek used government funds to access these financial services. Keep in mind that he does not have a seat on any House Committee that pertains to investing or regulation of the investment sector. The only committees he is on are the House Committees of Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Veterans Affairs.
But there’s more. In April of this year, Benishek and his wife purchased somewhere between $400,050 and $2.5 million worth of stocks on a single day:
|Owner||Stock||Sector||Date||Low Amount||High Amount|
|Benishek||Altria Group Inc||Tobacco||4/2/2015||$15,001||$50,000|
|Benishek||Ares Capital Group||Finance||4/2/2015||$15,001||$50,000|
|Benishek||BCE Inc New||Telecom||4/2/2015||$15,001||$50,000|
|Benishek||Glaxo Smith Kline||Pharmaceutical||4/2/2015||$15,001||$50,000|
|Benishek||Johnson and Johnson||Medical Products||4/2/2015||$15,001||$50,000|
|Benishek||Kinder Morgan Inc||Energy||4/2/2015||$15,001||$50,000|
|Benishek||Kimberly Clark Corp||Kleenex/Fem Hygiene||4/2/2015||$15,001||$50,000|
|Benishek||Maxim Integrated Products Inc||Electronics||4/2/2015||$15,001||$50,000|
|Benishek||Merck and Company||Pharmaceutical||4/2/2015||$15,001||$50,000|
|Benishek||NRG Yield Inc||Energy||4/2/2015||$15,001||$50,000|
|Benishek||National Grid PLC||Energy||4/2/2015||$15,001||$50,000|
|Benishek||Omega Healthcare Investors Inc||Healthcare/Real Estate||4/2/2015||$15,001||$50,000|
|Benishek||Procter and Gamble||Consumer Products||4/2/2015||$15,001||$50,000|
|Benishek||Realty Income Corp||Real Estate||4/2/2015||$15,001||$50,000|
|Benishek||Targa Resources Partnership||Oil/Gas||4/2/2015||$15,001||$50,000|
|Benishek||Wells Fargo and Co||Finance||4/2/2015||$15,001||$50,000|
|Wife||Altria Group Inc||Tobacco||4/2/2015||$1,001||$50,000|
|Wife||Ares Capital Group||Finance||4/2/2015||$1,001||$50,000|
|Wife||BCE Inc New||Telecom||4/2/2015||$1,001||$50,000|
|Wife||Glaxo Smith Kline||Pharmaceutical||4/2/2015||$1,001||$50,000|
|Wife||Johnson and Johnson||Medical Products||4/2/2015||$1,001||$50,000|
|Wife||Kinder Morgan Inc||Energy||4/2/2015||$1,001||$50,000|
|Wife||Kimberly Clark Corp||Kleenex/Fem Hygiene||4/2/2015||$1,001||$50,000|
|Wife||Maxim Integrated Products Inc||Electronics||4/2/2015||$1,001||$50,000|
|Wife||Merck and Company||Pharmaceutical||4/2/2015||$1,001||$50,000|
|Wife||NRG Yield Inc||Energy||4/2/2015||$1,001||$50,000|
|Wife||National Grid PLC||Energy||4/2/2015||$1,001||$50,000|
|Wife||Omega Healthcare Investors Inc||Healthcare/Real Estate||4/2/2015||$1,001||$50,000|
|Wife||Procter and Gamble||Consumer Products||4/2/2015||$1,001||$50,000|
|Wife||Realty Income Corp||Real Estate||4/2/2015||$1,001||$50,000|
|Wife||Targa Resources Partnership||Oil/Gas||4/2/2015||$1,001||$50,000|
|Wife||Wells Fargo and Co||Finance||4/2/2015||$1,001||$50,000|
The Benisheks are not what you would call busy investors. Prior to these purchases, in fact, they’ve purchased or sold very little stock while he’s been in office. In 2012, he and his wife sold between $16,000 and $65,000 worth of stocks from John Hancock Global Opportunities fund and the Templeton Dragon Fund Inc. In 2013, the two purchased between $30,000 and $100,000 worth of Nueberger Berman MLP Income Fund stock and sold between $1,000-$15,000 of ITT Corporation stock. The stock purchases in April dwarf these transactions.
What’s more troubling is that many of the stocks that Benishek purchased were from the very same groups who have donated tens of thousands of dollars to his campaign.
|Altria Group, Inc PAC (Altriapac)||9/24/2012||$2,000|
|Altria Group, Inc PAC (Altriapac)||11/28/2011||$1,000|
|Altria Group, Inc PAC (Altriapac)||10/14/2010||$1,500|
|Altria Group, Inc PAC (Altriapac)||10/27/2010||$1,000|
|Altria Group, Inc PAC (Altriapac)||9/30/2010||$1,000|
|Conocophillips Spirit PAC||5/29/2014||$1,000|
|Conocophillips Spirit PAC||9/23/2014||$1,000|
|Conocophillips Spirit PAC||7/31/2012||$1,000|
|Conocophillips Spirit PAC||10/25/2012||$1,000|
|General Electric Company PAC (GEPAC)||6/14/2013||$1,000|
|General Electric Company PAC (GEPAC)||7/12/2013||$1,000|
|General Electric Company PAC (GEPAC)||7/31/2013||$1,000|
|General Electric Company PAC (GEPAC)||9/25/2012||$2,000|
|General Electric Company PAC (GEPAC)||4/22/2011||$1,000|
|Merck & Co, Inc, Employees PAC (Merck PAC)||10/11/2014||$2,500|
|Wells Fargo And Company Employee PAC||3/2/2012||$1,000|
|Wells Fargo And Company Employee PAC||9/18/2012||$1,000|
These donations raise serious questions. Was Benishek present at the same fundraising events as staff from these corporations? Was he privy to information not available to other investors? What prompted the Benishek’s monsterous stock purchases all on the same day?
Congressman Dan Benishek claims he is breaking his promise to his constituents to serve only three terms in order to “continue serving our veterans and the families of Northern Michigan.” Given his use of taxpayer funds to pay for stock tip services and the donations he receives from the same companies he dropped hundreds of thousands – perhaps millions – of dollars in investments on, it looks very much like Dan Benishek is now exploiting his position in Congress to cash in on the business relationships he’s developed while in office.
“It’s shocking that Congressman Benishek would be drawing from the government’s – and taxpayers’ – reserves to enrich his personal stock portfolio,” DCCC spokeswoman Sacha Haworth told me. “Congressman Benishek’s extravagant stock purchases perhaps give us a glimpse into the real reason he broke his retirement pledge: his position within Washington insider circles was too profitable to give up.”