Members of Congress Investing Big in Media Companies

Kerry has largest investments, including some in Fox parent

Rep. Anthony Weiner’s investment in the New York Times hasn’t stopped the paper from reporting the ongoing drama of the congressman’s sex scandal and breaking the news of his wife’s pregnancy.

On Wednesday, the Center for Responsive Politics released a report detailing the value of stock that members of Congress or their spouses hold in media companies. Though Weiner’s stake in the Times is relatively small—worth between $1,001 to $15,000—other politicians have large investments in media conglomerates. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi holds assets worth between $100,001 and $250,000 in Comcast, which received government approval in January to acquire NBC Universal—home to NBC, MSNBC, and CNBC—amidst concerns that the merger would concentrate too much control over the flow of content.

Pelosi’s interest in Comcast is dwarfed by that of Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., who reported between $1.75 to $2.5 million in Comcast investments. Kerry. who chairs the Senate Commerce Committee's Communications Subcommittee, also disclosed an ironic investment: Stock worth between $600,000 and $1.25 million in News Corp., parent of Fox News. (Those investments come at least in part thanks to his wife, Theresa Heinz Kerry.)

These assets were made public through the 2009 personal financial disclosure reports of representatives and senators, who are only required to list the value of their holdings in broad ranges. The 2009 reports are the most recent available—members are due to turn in the 2010 forms Wednesday.     

All told, 59 members of Congress own assets in media companies and news organizations. The most popular company among elected officials is Walt Disney Co., which counts 30 members of Congress among its investors—those 30 members have, between them, at least a quarter of a million dollars in the company. In second place is Comcast, with 22 Congressional stakeholders.