The company is a member of the industry’s largest trade group, the National Association for Home Care and Hospice, which has lobbied on five bills John Yarmuth has co-sponsored. The group said it supported three of those bills and opposed all or parts of the other two. The group’s president said they have had “little interaction” with Yarmuth on legislation.
George said Yarmuth has met occasionally with Kentucky-based home care providers, but the congressman does not discuss legislation with his brother and has had little contact with the representatives from home health trade groups or lobbyists.
Yarmuth joined the Home Health Caucus as a “symbolic way to show support for the industry,” George said. He said Yarmuth signed a caucus letter opposing further cuts in Medicare to home health but described his role otherwise as “almost entirely aesthetic.”
In some cases, Yarmuth’s legislative actions have run counter to the home health-care industry’s broader interests, George noted. One of Yarmuth’s most significant legislative actions was to help draft and pass the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The law overhauling health care hit the home-care industry hard with reduced reimbursement rates and new rules.
In a congressional hearing last year on the new law, Yarmuth quizzed an official from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services about its fiscal impact on health-care providers. “I have a vested interest in this. I admit, my brother runs a home health-care company. I am a stockholder. I have to make that clear,” Yarmuth said. “But back in the late 1990s, there was a severe drop in the reimbursement to home health-care companies. About half the companies in the country went out of business.”
Natural gas connections
When Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) was elected to Congress in 2010, he and his wife owned shares in two privately held natural gas companies, Phillips Resources Inc. and TWP Inc. They were founded by his wife’s great-great-grandfather. When Kelly filed his candidate papers, he listed his shares at a relatively modest level — between $2,000 and $30,000. His wife’s shares were valued at between $1.5 million and $6 million.
At the time, big energy firms were eyeing the two companies, which had a leasehold on 317,000 acres in the gas-rich Marcellus Shale basin, industry and shareholder reports show.
The couple made between $10.1 million and $50.2 million when Exxon Mobil bought the companies in June 2011.
An Exxon Mobil subsidiary is now at the basin using hydraulic fracturing — commonly referred to as fracking — to break apart the shale and free the gas by injecting large volumes of water, sand and other chemicals.
Kelly and his wife, Victoria, also continue to be partners in two other natural gas companies: Campbells Gas Partners and PC Exploration Ltd., which also have land along the Marcellus Shale, records show. The couple earned between $37,000 and $100,000 from their holdings in 2011, Kelly’s latest disclosure statement shows.
Both as a candidate and congressman, Kelly has taken a high-profile stand in favor of Marcellus Shale gas development.
“We are poised to be on the forefront of the new energy economy thanks not only to our rich history but also to our proximity to large deposits of natural gas known as Marcellus Shale,” Kelly’s campaign Web site said.
After he was elected, Kelly joined more than a dozen caucuses, including the Marcellus Shale Caucus, which held its organizational meeting on April 1, 2011.
Six days later, he voted for a bill to bar the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases, which passed the House but not the Senate. Some scientists have warned that large quantities of greenhouse gases can be released during fracking.
The following day, April 8, an opinion piece by Kelly appeared in a local newspaper. Kelly wrote that “burdensome” regulations in Washington were impediments and emphasized the economic benefits to the region. “Reports have shown that for each mile of pipeline throughout the Marcellus Shale, nearly $1 million is poured into Pennsylvania’s economy,” he wrote.
Kelly did not disclose on his Web site or in the opinion piece that he held a financial stake in such endeavors.
In two congressional hearings in May, he railed against the EPA for efforts to regulate the industry and for investigating concerns about water contamination in relation to fracking. He thinks such work is better handled at the state level.
In June, his co-sponsorship of a natural gas bill — pushed by business magnate T. Boone Pickens — became an issue. The legislation would have provided between $5 billion and $9 billion in federal tax credits for a variety of initiatives to increase the number of passenger vehicles and long-haul trucks powered by natural gas.
The American Conservative Union and tea party groups launched an intensive lobbying effort to kill the bill, calling it a “boondoggle” as they attacked lawmakers, including Kelly, who had campaigned on a message of fiscal conservatism and promised to reduce government spending. Kelly withdrew his support, along with a host of other Republican lawmakers, and the bill died.
That same month, Exxon Mobil bought Phillips Resources and TWP for $1.69 billion. Kelly and his wife received their payments from the company the following month, according to Kelly’s accountant and financial disclosure statements.
Kelly and his wife continued to be partners with the two other gas companies, and his efforts to promote Marcellus Shale natural gas development have also continued.
In October, Kelly was the lead signatory on a three-page letter from the Pennsylvania delegation to the White House about four federal agency studies on fracking and the environment. “We are concerned that the economic benefits of shale gas to ordinary citizens in states such as Pennsylvania and across the country are not part of the discussion,” the letter said.
In a prepared statement, Kelly’s chief of staff, Matthew Stroia, said the lawmaker has followed all rules and laws set by Congress regarding public disclosure of assets and conflict of interest.
Stroia said Kelly has completed ethics training as a newly elected member of Congress, reviewed the House’s ethics rules and sought “informal” guidance from the ethics committee.
“Rep. Kelly rejects any insinuation that his motives are anything other than to get Americans back to work and pursue policies that will help lead to our country’s economic turnaround and energy independence,” the statement said. “Rep. Kelly did not run for political office for a career or personal gain but for a cause.”
Bobbye Pratt and Dan Keating contributed to this report.