Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

Nebraska Narcissist, Part Deux

Maybe I owe Warren Buffett an apology.

Yesterday I chastised Nebraska Democrat Ben Nelson for being the sole member of his party to side with Republicans to block debate on the financial reform bill. (Since then, Nelson voted twice with Republicans to keep blocking the bill, though Republicans have now agreed to let the bill come to the Senate floor.)

I noted that Nelson was peeved after Democrats struck a provision that would have protected the Nebraska-based investment company Berkshire Hathaway, headed by the legendary Buffett, from having to pay fees on its current derivative holdings. And, rashly perhaps, I accused Nelson of yet another “classic bit of special interest particularism,” coming on the heels of his celebrated “Cornhusker Kickback.”

But Nelson, it turns out, wasn’t simply looking out for Buffett -- by every measure the most special interest in his state. He was looking out for himself.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Nelson is Congress’ single largest shareholder in Berkshire Hathaway. Nelson’s most recent financial filings indicate that he held between $500,000 and $1 million in Berkshire stock in 2008, and that his wife held between $1 million and $5 million. Today, Nelson denied that this had any effect on his support for the Republican filibuster.

“I did not vote no because of Berkshire Hathaway,” he said. “Nor did the fact that I and my wife have owned Berkshire stock for 30+ years have anything to do with my vote. It has never been an issue. It isn't now."

Well that’s reassuring.

Nelson is the most conservative Democrat in the Senate, and he has publicly complained that the proposed financial consumer protection legislation might create trouble for Nebraska’s dentists. Connecticut Sen. Christopher Dodd, the bill’s author, however, has said that Nelson raised no dental issues in their private discussions – just his concern over the Berkshire provision.

So which is it? Ben Nelson, pillar of conservatism? Or Ben Nelson, cesspool of sleaze? The two are not mutually exclusive.

By Harold Meyerson  | April 28, 2010; 8:33 PM ET
Categories:  Meyerson  | Tags:  Harold Meyerson  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Why so much worry about 'empathy' on the Supreme Court?
Next: Don't ask don't tell and Obama's comments on immigration



Posted by: kejia32 | April 28, 2010 9:49 PM | Report abuse

What will it take to gain public disclosure of all holdings by Congressmen and to insure that they recuse themselves from voting on legislation that personally benefits them and their family members?
Nelson is certainly a liar and he insults the intelligence of every American when he tries to deny that he would have gained nothing from blocking finance reform. He is one of the very reasons why we citizens have had our retirements and personal savings destroyed by the greedy SOBs on Wall Street. Can anyone imagine how great our country COULD REALLY BE if these miserable b*st*rds in Congress would work together and the hell with their party labels. They should be working with every elected member of their own states and not with their party dictators who no longer care about how they are the reason our country has gone down the tube morally. They don't represent us because they cannot rise to our level of morality. They are bums and Nelson is a perfect example.

Posted by: papafritz571 | April 28, 2010 10:01 PM | Report abuse

Great Meyerson post. It's about time for Ben Nelson to be put out to pasture. If that means giving his seat to a Republican, so be it. If the voters of Nebraska can't figure out which end is up, the nation is truly in a bad way.

Posted by: douglaslbarber | April 28, 2010 11:02 PM | Report abuse

If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and sounds like a duck, then ... Nelson is an embarrassment, to himself, the Democratic Party and the Senate. The lousy little skink should be drowned in a barrel of corn syrup.

Posted by: CopyKinetics | April 28, 2010 11:11 PM | Report abuse

papafritz571 wrote, "Can anyone imagine how great our country COULD REALLY BE if these miserable b*st*rds in Congress would work together and the hell with their party labels."

It would be nice if politicians were better than the people they represent.

"Nice" only happens in animated Christmas specials.

Posted by: douglaslbarber | April 28, 2010 11:11 PM | Report abuse

Is it too late to send Meyerson back to the USSR? You have to wonder why he left.

Posted by: thebump | April 28, 2010 11:50 PM | Report abuse

to all DIMocRAT readers,

think Nelson is PATHETIC & an embarrassment?

what'a REALLY disgusting/IMMORAL is that the DIMocRATS have a sitting US Senator, who is a CURRENT member & national officer of the Ku Klux Klan.

Robert "KKK" Byrd (DIMocRAT of WV) is, according to the membership roster of "The Invisible Empire of The Knights of The Ku Klux Klan", the current "NATIONAL CYCLOPS".

TOLERATING a filthy, stinking, KLANSMAN in your party is as EVIL as BEING one.

just my opinion.

yours, TN46

Posted by: texasnative46 | April 29, 2010 12:20 AM | Report abuse

What! A politician looking after themselves? Wow, groundbreaking reporting there.
Better get prepared to be sleezed out a lot!

Posted by: dcjayhawk2 | April 29, 2010 6:56 AM | Report abuse

If Senator Nelson were an employee of the Executive branch instead of the Legislative branch, he would be guilty of a criminal violation of 18 USC 208 for participating in a matter which could affect his personal financial interests (which include the interests of his spouse). The de minimis exception to this criminal statute is $15,000, well below the Senator's holdings. Though there are provisions for obtaining a waiver, the waiver authority is at a very high level and a waiver is rarely granted.

Like Caesar's wife, civil servants are supposed to be above suspicion, and the purpose of the statute is to avoid "even the appearance" of impropriety. The statute creates almost a strict liability standard, and civil servants who violate the rule get nowhere with the "how dare you question my integrity" and "there is no way it affected my actions" defenses.

I am not suggesting that Congress apply the same standards to itself, but it would be nice if Representatives and Senators recognized that circumstances which raise questions about the motives of civil servants also raise questions about their motives.

Posted by: wvanpup | April 29, 2010 7:59 AM | Report abuse

Senator Nelson has obviously reached the point where he's become another entitled grifter, masquerading as a public servant. I'm a Democrat, but I abhor this kind of behavior from members of either party. Time for the Democratic party to sanction this grafter and find someone else to run for his seat the next time it's up for grabs.

Posted by: bienefes | April 29, 2010 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Meyerson, did you know that Kool Aid was invented in Nebraska? Also Vice-Grips [1924] but the Nebraska plant was closed last year and the operations were moved to China.

Posted by: johnson0572 | April 29, 2010 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Yo Texasnativeidjit

I know you are devoid of original thought as you continue to cut and paste the same stupid rhetoric everytime you blog.

Try something new for a change- EXPAND YOU LITTLE BITTY MIND a WEE bit.

Posted by: racerdoc | April 29, 2010 11:01 AM | Report abuse

racerdoc; all,

racerdoc: don't you get tired of being thought a FOOL, a brain-DEAD DIMocRAT & a person who writes like a 5th grade drop-out?

do you enjoy people here RIDICULING your STUPID, fact-FREE posts, that wouldn't convince my 4YO niece?

laughing AT you.

to all: the reason that i constantly remind everyone, of WHAT the DIMocRAT party is today, is that the DIMs are nothing more than a motley collection of FOOLS, UNION BOSSES, RACE-BAITERS, SHYSTER LAWYERS, BIGOTS, MORONS, LEFTISTS & at least one KLANSMAN.

according to a recent NY Times poll, about 35% of Americans are willing to even LISTEN to the LIES told by the DIMocRATS in Congress; they are simply DISTRUSTED.
(the DECENT "middle of the road" Americans have LEFT the party, permanently. that is the MAIN reason that the DIMocRATS are about to become IRRELEVANT, in just about 6 months.)

DIMocRAT "leadership", thy name is HYPOCRITE/LOSER.

yours, TN46

Posted by: texasnative46 | May 1, 2010 1:07 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company