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Senators investigating Apple own company stock

Heitkamp, Carper have investments together worth hundreds of thousands of dollars

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Two senators serving on a subcommittee that Tuesday grilled Apple Inc. executives over the company's offshore tax practices are themselves owners of Apple stock, either directly or through a spouse, according to interviews and a review of federal disclosure documents by the Center for Public Integrity.

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., owns the most Apple stock among the 14 members of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, with her holdings worth at least $250,001 and up to $500,000, according to personal financial disclosure documents for calendar year 2012. She also earned up to $5,000 in Apple stock dividends last year, records show. 

Heitkamp was one of six committee members to not attend Tuesday's hours-long hearing, during which Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook defended his company against accusations of tax dodging. Attendee or not, the senator's stock holdings do not pose a conflict with her committee service, a spokeswoman said.

“Senator Heitkamp was selected to serve on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee because of her unique position being from a border state and her past experience as a state attorney general working along aside law enforcement," spokeswoman Whitney Phillips said. "Her position on this committee is in no way impacted by her personal financial holdings.” 

Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and an ex officio member on its Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations who attended the hearing and asked questions, reported that his wife, Martha Ann, owned up to $100,000 worth of Apple stock during 2012. The stock also generated up to $2,500 in dividends last year, federal records show

Officeholders generally disclose their assets and earnings in broad ranges.

Carper's committee office confirmed the senator's wife currently owns Apple equities, but spokeswoman Jennie Westbrook declined to answer specific questions about the stock holding. 

(Update, 10:19 a.m., May 23: Westbrook followed up with a statement regarding Carper's Apple holdings, which reads: “In his role as chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Chairman Carper continues to make it a top priority to conduct thorough and proper oversight. Neither Chairman Carper’s financial holdings nor his family’s influence his policy and oversight work on the committee or in the Senate. This is underscored by the fact that he actively participated in Sen. [Carl] Levin’s hearing on this important matter.”)

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., another ex officio subcommittee member, also reported trading in Apple stock options during 2012, earning up to $50,000 from the transactions, according to his newly released personal financial disclosure document.

The same document also states that Coburn's Apple holdings at the end of 2012 were worth $1,000 or less — an indication he may no longer have Apple holdings. Representatives for Coburn, who also did not attend Tuesday's hearing, could not be reached for comment.

In addition to Carper, Sens. Carl Levin, D-Mich; John McCain, R-Ariz.; Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.; Ron Johnson, R-Wis.; Rob Portman, R-Ohio; and Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H. attended Tuesday's hearing. These senators reported no Apple stock holdings in 2012 outside of what might exist in broad-based mutual funds that many of them reported.

Another committee member in attendance, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., was granted a 90-day filing extension for his 2012 disclosure paperwork after asking for more time. It is therefore unknown whether Paul, who defended Apple during the hearing, owned Apple stock during 2012. During 2011, he did not, federal records show.

In 2011, Apple stock, which today closed at $441.35 per share, ranked among the most popular holdings by all members of Congress — just below the stock shares of other massive companies such as General Electric, ExxonMobil, Pfizer and Bank of America, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.