In Gold They Trust: Some Lawmakers Hold Precious Metal

Even lawmakers have been flocking to gold during this debt crisis and many have been investing in it for years. As the price of gold has been increasing more and more are finding the benefits of this investment.

Peter Overby
July 26, 2011
NPR

Ready to buy gold yet?

As Washington edges the government to the brink of a credit default, the price of gold has never been higher.

On Capitol Hill, many lawmaker-investors have seen it as a good investment for years. A survey of their personal financial disclosure reports from 2009 and 2010 shows dozens of lawmakers investing in gold, gold derivatives and gold mining companies, even if it rarely amounts to a major share of their portfolios.

In 2010, two lawmakers said they owned actual gold ingots, bullion or coins: Reps. Steve Cohen (D-TN) and Randy Neugebauer (R-TX). Cohen valued his gold at $15,000 to $50,000. Neugebauer estimated $50,000 to $100,000. The law doesn't require members to disclose precise amounts of their personal finances.

Gold's champion on Capitol Hill is Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), a long-time advocate of returning to the gold standard. He reported owning shares in Barrick Gold Corp., the Toronto-based gold mining and production company; Anglogold Ashanti of Johannesburg, South Africa; Coeur d'Alene Mines Corp.; Golden Star Resources Ltd. mining in Ghana; the Canadian-based Kinross — 22 companies in all, some of them mining silver as well as gold. The range of Paul's investments: $1 million to $2.4 million.

But even Paul isn't overcommitted. His other investments are worth as much as $17 million. His passion for gold doesn't seem to be hereditary either. His son, newly elected Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), reported no holdings involving gold or any other precious minerals in 2010.

Another attentive investor in gold is freshman Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC), who unseated longtime Democrat John Spratt last fall. Last year he reported 13 different investments in gold and the gold industry, totaling between $348,000 and $740,000. But again, they amounted to just a slice of an extensive portfolio.

Gold draws about twice as many Republicans as Democrats. Still, Capitol Hill's biggest investor is Sen. John Kerry (D-MA). Kerry and his wife, Teresa Heinz control several trust funds. Last year, those funds collectively owned roughly $800,000 to $1.5 million in Barrick Gold.

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