Supreme Court nominee Samuel A. Alito Jr. has hundreds of thousands of dollars invested in stocks, money market funds and mutual funds, many of them handled by Vanguard, the company at the center of a conflict-of-interest complaint leveled by some of his opponents.
Alito, an appellate court judge for 15 years, has money invested in more than a dozen Vanguard funds, according to his financial disclosure report for 2004, released yesterday by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Last May, when the report was filed, Alito had more than $50,000 each in Vanguard's Tax-Exempt Money Market Fund, Wellington Mutual Fund, Small Cap Stock Fund, Total Stock Market Index Fund and New Jersey Tax-Exempt Money Market.
His largest holding, however, was in Exxon Mobil Corp. common stock, valued at more than $100,000 and less than $250,000. He listed no financial liabilities and no outside income beyond the $6,000 he was paid for teaching a class at Seton Hall Law School.
Alito's precise wealth is not publicly known because the federal government disclosure forms require employees to list assets in broad ranges, not exact amounts.
When Alito was named to the appellate court in 1990, he told the Senate he would not rule in cases involving Vanguard, to avoid any possible conflict of interest. But in 2002, he ruled in a routine case that benefited Vanguard. When the losing party complained, Alito recused himself, and another panel of judges reheard the case and again ruled in Vanguard's favor.
Alito's critics do not allege that he could have benefited from his ruling, but they fault him for reneging on his promise to avoid cases involving Vanguard. Alito first blamed the situation on a courthouse computer system that failed to alert him to the possible conflict. He later said that his promise had been "unduly restrictive" and that it applied only to his initial time on the court.
According to the 2004 disclosure report, Alito held more than $15,000 each in U.S. savings bonds, Intel Corp. stock, McDonald's Corp. stock and a Fidelity stock mutual fund.