It seems that Mike Rogers (MI-08) has been making bank on his investments the past few years.
When you consider the fact that nobody’s stocks have been doing very well recently, that alone should make you wonder. But that’s not all - according to recently obtained personal financial disclosure forms filed by Mr. Rogers from 2007 to 2011, he seems to only have holdings in one particular company: an Illinois-based “independent oil purchasing and production company” called Bi-Petro, Inc.
On his 2007 and 2008 disclosure forms, Rogers reports his Bi-Petro assets at a value of between $1,000 and $15,000, with an income (listed as “interest”) of between $1,000 and $2,500 a year. Do the math. At the very least, his Bi-Petro investment has been returning 6.67% of its market value every year. Do you know of anyone else who got that sort of return in ’07 and ’08?
In 2009, Rogers’ Bi-Petro assets were still listed at a value of $1,000 to $15,000 with income, listed as “dividends” instead of “interest”, between $1,000 and $2,500.
This all takes on a slightly fishy odor when you remember that Rogers sits on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and has consistently voted in favor of oil, gas, and fossil fuel interests.
But it’s not until 2010 that you really cry foul. In 2010, the value of Rogers’ Bi-Petro stock decreases to less than $1,000. In the same time frame, he acquires a new Wells Fargo bank account, valued at between $50,000 and $100,000, paying dividends of $5,000-$15,000 a year. Where does one get a hold of $50,000? Even if he sold some Bi-Petro stock, it couldn’t have made him $50,000, if the stock was still valued at anywhere near $15,000.
In addition, on February 9, 2012, Rogers abstained from voting on S 2038, which prohibited insider trading by members of Congress. (The bill passed by a margin of 417 to 2.) And on the same day, he voted to extend the payroll tax cut. He was there, he just chose not to vote. In light of his past business practices, his abstention looks like the product of a guilty conscience. Or at least, a sincere desire not to get eviscerated for hypocrisy.
Do Rogers’ Bi-Petro holdings, together with his voting record on oil and gas drilling, clearly indicate insider trading, or Rogers making profits off his own legislation? Maybe not by themselves. But it definitely raises some questions. Rogers’ finances shouldn’t be policed only by people like me armed with FOIA-ed disclosure forms. Someone needs to look into this.
Rogers, when asked about the nature and the morality of his Bi-Petro holdings, will most likely respond with the same message we’ve been hearing from a lot of Republicans who are having their questionable business dealings revealed: We don’t want to talk about that, let’s focus on getting the economy back on track. But that argument doesn’t hold water. Dishonest politics is a significant drag on our economy. Don’t forget that our credit rating was downgraded in light of the political infighting in Washington. Don’t forget that every minute our representatives spend giving handouts to corporations is a minute that they’re ignoring their constituents, who don’t care as much about the stock market as they do about finding a job. Don’t forget that it’s essentially unethical and possibly criminal to be making money off of the laws you pass.
And definitely don’t buy the argument (one that you will definitely be hearing from the Rogers camp) that somehow a person who has been solidly in the corporate pocket for 12 years is going to roll up his sleeves and work for the middle class. Mike Rogers is a corporate tool, and that's not going to change.