The AJC reports not one, but two instances where US Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Marietta) may have violated House Ethics rules:
U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey may have received stock benefits in violation of congressional ethics rules from his role as an insider of two Georgia banks, one of which failed, according to a report Wednesday by Thomson Reuters.
ingrey, R-Marietta, served on the board of Hiram-based WestSide Bank. He formerly served as a director of Bank of Ellijay, which he left several months before its failure in September 2010.
The news agency reports Gingrey received warrants to buy stock in the banks in exchange for his board service. Two former House ethics attorneys told Reuters that would amount to outside compensation in violation of U.S. House rules.
[…] Members of Congress are not allowed to accept compensation for service on a corporate board, Reuters reported, and Gingrey said in financial disclosures he was as unpaid director.
Warrants are similar to stock options, and allow the holder to buy stock at a later date for a set price
The stock and stock warrants for Bank of Ellijay became worthless after the institution failed, and any value in warrants for WestSide stock also would have diminished as the bank has struggled amid a raft of bad real estate loans.
Former counselors with the House Ethics Committee told Reuters the warrants would be considered compensation, even if they were ultimately deemed worthless.
The news service also questioned a loan made by WestSide to a partnership Gingrey controlled. WestSide was under regulatory orders to reduce loans to bank insiders and it had.
WestSide issued Gingrey’s firm a $86,000 loan in 2010. Reuters reported Gingrey said WestSide gave him a better rate on the loan than other banks, but he denied getting an improper discount on the loan.
According to House ethics rules, it is improper for a member of Congress to receive loans at below-market interest rates.
The full Reuters article the AJC used for their report is here for your reading pleasure.
Gingrey’s spokewoman Jen Talaber disputes that any real compensation was received in either case.
Which raises the question: How do you define “real compensation” these days? By hard-earned sawbucks in your pockets or the vacuous Congressional idea of funny money that magically disappears when the wrong people ask the right questions?