There was a dramatic new wrinkle in the White House quest to make Susan E. Rice the next Secretary of State as it emerged she has a large portfolio of stock in the company seeking a permit to build the controversial Keystone XL pipeline.
The New York Times
, citing financial disclosure documents, reported Thursday night that Rice owns from $300,000 to $600,000 of stock in TransCanada, a Canadian firm seeking a federal permits.
She and her husband earned a total of $32,500 on that investment, according to the documents .
While there is nothing wrong with government employees owning securities, Rice’s appointment could present a conflict of interest since the State Department oversees pipelines that cross over international borders.
That means the Secretary of State is ultimately responsible for whether the pipeline project will fly, the Times said.
Environmental groups immediately cried foul.
“It’s really amazing that they’re considering someone for Secretary of State who has millions invested in these companies,” Bill McKibben, an anti-pipeline activist told the environmental website OnEarth.org., which first uncovered the documents.
“The State Department has been rife with collusion with the Canadian pipeline builders, and it’s really distressing to have any sense that that might continue to go on.”
In addition to her TransCanada holdings, Rice also has investments totaling at least $5 million and up to $11.25 million in Bank of Montreal, Bank of Nova Scotia, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, Royal Bank of Canada, and Toronto Dominion, OnEarth.org said.
Activists say Rice would have to divest herself of all pipeline-related stock immediately if she was to become Secretary of State.
Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, has been in the hot seat since President Barack Obama proposed her as the next Secretary of State because of her questionable remarks about the Benghazi, Libya terrorist attack that killed Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
Appearing on CBS’ “Face the Nation,’’ Rice said, “We do not have information at present that leads us to conclude that this [attack] was premeditated or preplanned." Her statement was later discredited, leading House Republicans to write to Obama to say she would not be an appropriate replacement for Hillary Clinton.
Rice has not been nominated by President Obama to head the State Department, but is among his top choices.
Obama recently defended Rice as Congressional Republicans ramped up criticism of her handling of the attack on American diplomats in Benghazi, Libya.
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