Oversight

• SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE/HOUSE WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE (09/10/08): — Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), and House Financial Services Committee members Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.) and Michael Capuano (D-Mass.) called for oversight of pension investments in hedge funds and private equity.

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The lawmakers said that greater federal guidance could prevent risky investment of pension money. They referred to a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report that found increasing levels of investment by private pension plans in hedge funds and private equity funds.

“It is crucial that we take great care as pensions invest more in hedge funds and private equity,” said Baucus.

• HOUSE EDUCATION AND LABOR COMMITTEE: (8/28/08)
— Chairman George Miller (D-Calif.) said his panel is opening an inquiry into allegations of financial misconduct by local union officials of the Service Employees International Union.

According to media reports, the president of SEIU’s second largest local union may have misdirected union funds to the benefit of his family members and other business associates.

“Our committee takes these reported allegations seriously and we plan to thoroughly review this matter,” he said.

• SENATE ENVIRONMENT AND PUBLIC WORKS COMMITTEE: (8/26/08) — Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) sent a letter to Interior Department Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, urging him to withdraw the recent proposed changes to the Endangered Species Act (ESA) regulations.

“The proposed changes are inconsistent with the letter and spirit of the ESA, contradicted by federal judicial precedent, and would reduce rather than strengthen protections for imperiled fish and wildlife,” the senators wrote.

The letter calls for a withdrawal of proposed changes that would signal the largest overhaul of the Endangered Species Act rules since 1986 and could dramatically weaken current U.S. protections for endangered plants and animals.