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Wall Street Bounce Boosts Member Campaign Accounts

The recent surge on Wall Street has created a windfall for some Congressional campaigns that invested their political contributions in the stock market during the third quarter.The biggest beneficiary was Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), whose campaign investments have gone on a rollercoaster ride during the past two years. After losing more than $808,000 during 2008 and early 2009, the Texas Republican’s campaign fund rebounded by recouping large sums of money in recent months.New campaign finance reports show Barton made about $208,000 between July and September — mostly through broad-based securities with Fidelity Investments. But the ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee also profited from targeted investments during the three-month period in companies such as General Electric, which yielded Barton $47,000; Lennar Corp., increasing by $22,800; and Fidelity Select Energy Service, accumulating $13,488.Barton’s third-quarter boost adds to the $141,000 his campaign reported in investment proceeds in the previous quarter.Barton’s office did not return a call seeking comment for this story.At least seven Congressional campaigns received investment profits totaling more than half a million dollars during the past three months, according to a CQ MoneyLine study of campaign reports filed by House candidates with the Federal Election Commission. Among those with bullish profits on campaign investments were Rep. Bill Delahunt (D-Mass.), with more than $52,000 from his Fidelity Investments account, and Rep. David Wu (D-Ore.), whose investments appreciated more than $45,000.Not everyone profited as the Dow rose by 15 percent during the third quarter. Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) lost more than $110,000 between July and September through his campaign’s account at Fidelity Investments. Bachus spokesman Tim Johnson said in an e-mail Friday “Like many other members of the House and Senate, a portion of Congressman Bachus’ campaign funds are invested in the stock market. The investments are held for the long-term and fluctuations both positive and negative are to be expected. These funds are not being used for the day-to-day operations of the campaign account.—While it may seem unusual for Members to invest their political contributions in the market, the practice is legal under current campaign laws. House conflict-of-interest rules also do not apply to campaign holdings, leaving Members free to invest their funds pretty much as they please. Unlike their personal investments, Members are not required to disclose the stocks their campaigns invest in.While Barton’s investments are detailed in his FEC filings, others don’t list the companies or funds they invest in. A spokesman for Wu, for instance, would not comment on the investments the campaign made during the most recent reporting period.During the past few months, several former lawmakers also saw increases in the campaign funds they still maintain. They included former Rep. Joseph Kennedy (D-Mass.), who saw his fund investments rise by $120,000; recently retired Rep. Jim Saxton (R-N.J.), $34,000; and former Rep. Chip Pickering (R-Miss.), whose investments rose more than $36,000. Though Kennedy has been out of Congress for a decade, he still has a balance of more than $1.8 million in his campaign account.

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