Judge In [Oil Drilling] Moratorium Case Sold Exxon Stock This Week

I think this judge was right on the line of a conflict of interest.

" WASHINGTON (Dow Jones)–The U.S. federal judge who struck down the Obama administration’s six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling sold stock in Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) on the same day he issued his ruling, according to documents released Friday.

Exxon Mobil was among the companies affected by the administration’s moratorium. It used a rig whose operations were suspended under the ban, according to Exxon spokeswoman Cynthia Bergman White.

The judge in the moratorium case, U.S. District Court Judge Martin Feldman, says he only learned of his holdings in Exxon Mobil on Monday, the day before he issued his ruling.

“Because he remembered that Exxon, who was not a party litigant in the moratorium case, nevertheless had one of the 33 rigs in the Gulf, the judge instructed his broker to sell Exxon and XTO [Energy Inc.] as soon as the market opened the next morning,” according to a statement released by the judge’s chambers.

The judge said in a Wednesday letter that he sold his shares in Exxon Mobil before the stock market opened Tuesday, “prior to the opening of a court hearing on the spill moratorium case.” The letter was released by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts on Friday.

According to federal law, federal judges are required to step aside from cases that present financial conflicts or cases in which the judge’s impartiality might be questioned. "


So if he sold the stock on the same day that he released his ruling, where’s the conflict of interest?

He considered a legal case on an issue on which he had a vested interest. Selling his stock right before he ruled (in case the stock price jumped) really does not change that fact.

When the ruling was issued he could not have benefited financially from the ruling, correct? What’s the issue? Furthermore, it says Exxon owns ONE deepwater rig- that hardly means Exxon’s stock price was in play.

It would seem that the judge made every move to keep his ruling above board. If he did not, I am sure that there will be enough pressure that he himself will be brought before an ethics panel and they can decide on the facts of the case, rather than upon the politics that seek to discredit his ruling.

Well, I don’t know how solid the “conflict of interest” charge is, but Exxon stock would still be “in play” if a ruling came down that was negative for the oil industry. All oil stocks would suffer, regardless of the number of deepwater rigs.

No… companies that had few rigs that were effected by the moratorium (e.g. Exxon) should not have taken a noticeable hit.

The judge owning the stock gave the appearance of impropriety – which is to be avoided.

Exxon stocks are just the tip of the iceberg. This judge listed investments in Transocean (that company should sound familiar to those paying attention to the crisis), Hercules Offshore, Parker Drilling, Ocean Energy, and fifteen other oil companies, conducting either onshore, offshore, or both types of drilling,in his financial disclosure form. He invested in a total of 20 oil companies and only sold his stocks in one; Exxon.Conflict of interest is an understatement.

If I’m reading the link right, the judge has investments in 119 different entities. Even though Transocean is listed, it would appear he has no money invested in that stock. I really can’t see how you can twist this into some sort of malfeasance on his part.

Easy…the judge didn’t rule his way. :wink:

It is a clear conflict of interest. His financial future depends, in part, on the ability of the companies he has invested in to conduct offshore drilling. He should have recused himself from the case.


Here’s more information from ThinkProgress

Having looked at the financial disclosure form myself, it appears to me that there is no conflict of interest at all.

The only conflice of interest I see i Obama lying about the Experts report and then uisng the Moratorium as an excuse to push Cap N Trade

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