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On the line

Thirty-four members of Congress made changes to their financial portfolios during the financial crisis following phone calls or meetings with Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr., his successor Timothy F. Geithner, or Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke. During this period, the lawmakers spoke with these officials hundreds of times and, in 166 instances, made trades one or two business days afterwards. This graphic shows some of the transactions.

Dow Jones industrial average, weekly closes

Early 2007: Efforts to reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac stall. Paulson reaches out to Congress to break stalemate.

Jan. 2, 2008: Bush asks Paulson to consult with Congress and others to come up with a strategy to aggressively confront the weakening economy.

Recession

Paulson met
with lawmaker

Paulson spoke with
lawmaker on phone
that day

Rep. John A. Boehner

(R-Ohio)

Boehner, the House minority leader at the time, was the Republican point person on the Bush stimulus proposal, announced Jan. 18.

Jan. 21     22     23

Jan. 24: White House announced tentative
agreement with House on stimulus package.

Jan. 23: Sold $50,000-$100,000 out of a more aggressive mutual fund and moved funds into a safer investment.

See the overlap between Paulson's calendar and Boehner's financial transactions

  • 2007
  • 2008
  • 2009

Response:

A spokesman said Boehner's trades are handled by an investment adviser. "The House speaker has no say whatsoever on day-to-day investment decisions."

Sen. Kent Conrad

(D-N.D.)

As chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, Conrad
was in contact with Paulson about the nation's economy during the crisis.

Aug. 13: Paulson called Conrad at 4:30.

Aug. 14: Shifted $150,000-$300,000 out of three mutual funds in wife's 401(k)
retirement account. Moved $100,000-$250,000 into a money market retirement account.

  • 2007
  • 2008
  • 2009

Response:

“Our records show that Paulson called me about the debt limit extension and that had nothing to do with the reason for my making the trades,” Conrad said.

Rep. Barney Frank

(D-Mass.)

In 2008, Frank -- then chairman of the House Financial Services Committee -- held a hearing and introduced two bills aimed at stabilizing the bond market. Both bills stalled.

Oct. 17: Paulson called Frank after
the markets had closed that Friday

Oct. 20: Liquidated about $93,000 in Massachusetts municipal bonds in three separate transactions, representing nearly 10 percent of his financial portfolio. Frank said he moved the money into his campaign coffers and later reinvested it in municipal bonds.

  • 2007
  • 2008
  • 2009

Response:

Frank said his conversations during the crisis had nothing to do with his financial decisions. “Were these things tied to the phone calls? No.” He said he worked in Congress to lower interest rates on municipal bonds, working against his own interests.

Sen. Mitch McConnell

(R-Ky.)

As Senate minority leader, McConnell was a point person once the stimulus moved to the Senate. When it looked like it was in jeopardy, Paulson worked the phones to salvage the deal.

Jan. 28   Jan. 29   Jan. 30   Jan. 31

Jan 31: "The stimulus train is grinding
to a halt," McConnell told reporters.

Jan. 31: Made trades worth between $60,000 and $200,000, rearranging four mutual funds. Sold shares in an international fund, bought shares in another and reconfigured investments in two domestic funds.

  • 2007
  • 2008
  • 2009

Response:

A spokesman said McConnell does not own individual stocks to avoid the appearance of conflicts and relies on an investment adviser to handle his trades.

Sen. Ben Nelson

(D-Neb.)

One of the most fiscally conservative Democrats in the Senate, Nelson spoke with Paulson three times in 2007 to discuss issues related to disabled veterans and financial reforms.

Jan. 10

Jan. 11: Between $250,000-$500,000 in Lehman Brothers certificates of deposit matured and Nelson purchased $100,000-$200,000 in Treasury notes.

  • 2007
  • 2008
  • 2009

Response:

"He has not, and would not, have conversations with Executive Branch officials about matters affecting his personal finances," a spokesman said.

SOURCE: Treasury secretary appointment calendars, Washington Post analysis of House and Senate personal financial disclosures, Center for Responsive Politics (opensecrets.org). GRAPHIC: Wilson Andrews, Emily Chow, David Fallis, Scott Higham, Kimberly Kindy, Dan Keating, Laura Stanton, Sisi Wei and Karen Yourish - The Washington Post. Published June 25, 2012.

Note: An earlier version of this graphic said that Nelson spoke frequently with then-Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. Nelson spoke with Paulson twice that year and met with him once. The graphic was updated on July 4, 2012.