by Kody Fairfield
The Green Party has long been a stronghold for environmentalism, as well as one of the biggest critics of big banking, the military industrial complex, and the pharmaceutical industry, and in 2016 that appears to be no different. Their presidential candidate, Jill Stein, has railed against each of the above industries at nearly every event or rally she has held. What is curious about her stances however, is the fact that her investment portfolio seems to like those industries much more than her rhetoric.
A report and analysis completed by The Daily Beast of financial disclosure paperwork filed by Stein, which is required to run for President, shows that Stein may not hate the aforementioned industries enough to ignore significant financial gain off of them.
According to the financial disclosure form that she filed with the United States Office of Government Ethics on March 30, 2016, Stein and her husband, Richard Roher, have investments (with the exception of real estate) worth anywhere from $3,832,050 to $8,505,000.
Stein has also voluntarily released the first two pages of her 2015 federal tax return. That return, filed jointly with her husband, shows a total income of $349,088 in 2015 and an effective tax rate of 21 percent.
Most of Stein’s investments are in mutual funds or index funds. Experts suggest that these funds, which are usually highly diversified, provide more consistent returns than picking individual stocks.
Stein’s controversial investments include:
Big Carbon. On October 26, 2015, Stein’s campaign sent out a statement calling for Exxon to get the death penalty for its “climate change fraud.” (it should be noted that Stein has called for the abolition of the death penalty for human beings). She has also repeatedly called for public pension funds to divest from companies in the fossil fuel industry.
Yet Stein has invested $995,011 to $2.2 million in funds such as the Vanguard 500 fund
that maintain significant stakes in Exxon and other energy companies like Chevron, Duke Energy, Conoco Phillips, and Toho Gas, a Japanese company that engages in the sale of natural gas, tar, and coke, a fuel made from coal.
Financial Industry. Like Senator Bernie Sanders, Stein has consistently denounced the banking industry and Wall Street. She has said that big banks should be nationalized or broken up. And she has refused to agree that there is a stark difference between how the Democrats have regulated the financial services industry and how Republicans have approached the same task.
Yet Stein has invested roughly $1.2 to $2.65 million in funds like the TIAA-CREF Equity Index that have big stakes in the financial services industry. Holdings in these funds include big banks like JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup and Deutsche Bank as major parts of their investment portfolios. Five of the funds that Stein invests in maintain large positions in Wells Fargo Bank, which has come under fire recently amid charges that its employees being pressured to force clients to open up fraudulent new accounts.
One of the funds Stein has invested in maintains a significant position in Goldman Sachs bonds. Stein once referred to Goldman Sachs as Hillary Clinton’s best friend. She has also invested in a fund that contains significant investments in mortgage-backed securities, including subprime mortgage-backed securities, and mortgage-backed derivatives. These financial instruments played a significant role in the financial crisis of 2008.
Big Pharma. Stein has been a stalwart opponent of what she sees as the corrupt influence of the pharmaceutical industry. She posted a tweet that said:
“I believe that healthcare should serve people not the interests of pharmaceutical and insurance companies, unlike the DNC or Hillary.”
In one of the handful of direct stock investments Stein holds, she listed between $50,001 and $100,000 in the pharmaceutical giant Merck, which paid a record fine for over-billing Medicaid. She has also invested $1,130,010 to $2,400,000 in funds that maintain significant stakes in Pfizer, Novartis, Johnson and Johnson, and Allergan.
Big Tobacco. Investing in the tobacco industry or accepting contributions from the tobacco industry is often seen as a third rail in progressive politics. But Stein has between $500,004 to $1,100,000 invested in funds that maintain significant stakes in Phillip Morris International, the tobacco giant that manufactures Marlboro cigarettes and 17 other tobacco brands.
Defense contractors/drones. Stein has made her opposition to the use of drones by the United States military a key message in her campaign. She said, “Increased use of drone warfare under Obama is killing many innocent civilians, over 90 percent of deaths were unintended targets in Afghanistan,” and she has referred to the drone program as a “fabulous recruitment tool for terrorists.”
Yet she has between $50,001-$100,000 invested in a fund that has the Raytheon Corporation as its fourth largest holding, a $38 million investment. Raytheon, which is the fourth largest defense contractor in the world and derives 90 percent of its revenue from military contracts, manufactures drone systems, which Stein has committed to ending, and significant missile systems.
In response to the The Daily Beast, the Stein campaign evidently issued a large 4 point and 500 word statement.
“Like many Americans who hold retirement accounts, pension funds, or who invest in the American economy,” the statement begins, “my finances are largely held in index funds or mutual funds over which I have no control in management or decision-making. Sadly, most of these broad investments are as compromised as the American economy—degraded as it is by the fossil fuel, defense and finance industries.”
Stein said that she has “explored” more socially responsible funds but “found their investments in fracking and large scale biofuels not much better than the non-green funds. I have not yet found the mutual funds that represent my goals of advancing the cause of people, planet and peace.”
While the campaigns statement on Stein’s investments do have validity in the sense that the candidate cannot control where her index or mutual funds invest, what she can control is the fact that the money is in the funds to begin with. It seems a bit like a cop out or lack of philosophic consistency, to argue the difficulty in pure investments when she says things to the public such as:
As President, I will crack down on corporate criminals like Exxon. Their fraud about climate change has contributed to the deaths of millions worldwide and has caused hundreds of billions of dollars in damages, with far worse to come. I would support putting the death penalty on the table for Exxon as a corporate entity.
Stein is also not the first politician to take some heat for their investment funds. President Barack Obama, Ted Cruz, and others have also dealt with similar situations. The Daily Beast even mentions ways that politicians have moved to try to avoid such conflicts of interest by solely investing in United States Treasuries, cash/cash equivalents, in socially responsible index funds, or clean energy funds. So far for Stein however, it seems she would rather just “talk the talk,” and avoid actually having to “walk the walk.”
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