On Monday the Washington Post published its study of the personal finances of Congressional members in relation to their commitee assigments. The newspaper relied heavily on financial disclosure information amassed by the government watchdog group OpenSecrets.org. Reporters found that U.S. lawmakers are often invested in the industries they oversee in their Senate and House committees.
Take, for example, Rep. Ron Paul. For 20 years the Texas Republican has advocated a return to the gold standard. He is also ranking member of the Financial Services subcommittee concerned with monetary policy, mints and gold medals. In 2008 Paul declared $1.7 million in personal investments in gold and silver companies. Or consider Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who chairs the Judiciary Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology and Homeland Security. In 2008 she disclosed $935,000 in investments in electronics and communications firms.
The Post has a nifty interactive graphic showing investments of other key committee leaders, as well as total amounts of personal assets invested in various industry sectors by members of related committees.
Incidentally, the Bee has collected 2008 financial disclosure forms (Statements of Economic Interests) submitted by California legislators and constitutional officers. You can browse these here. 2009 filings are available on the California Fair Political Practices Commission web site.