House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, who earlier this year proposed cuts to government spending, including spending on education and Medicare, in order to balance the national budget, may have had more than the public good on his mind when he presented a plan that would cut spending while also maintaining tax subsidies for oil, mining, and energy industries. According to the congressman’s mandatory financial disclosure report to Congress, Ryan and his wife own stakes in four family companies that lease land in Texas and Oklahoma to energy companies that benefit from the tax subsidies Ryan advocated.
Ryan’s father-in-law runs the companies that are currently leasing land for mining and drilling to Chesapeake Energy (NYSE:CHK), Devon (NYSE:DVN), XTO Energy, and a subsidiary of ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM). Ryan’s stake in these companies immediately poses a conflict of interest, especially when Ryan is lining his pockets with big oil money while expecting senior citizens, children, and the disabled to endure cuts to already underfunded programs.
Of course, Ryan’s office says he hadn’t even considered his own interests when drawing up the budget plan, overlooking the $117,000 the properties earned him and his wife just last year, as well as the $60,000 from the year before that. According to Ryan’s financial disclosure, he has assets worth somewhere between $590,000 and $2.5 million, and he owns minority stakes in four of his wife’s family companies, including Ava O Limited Company, which holds mining and mineral rights, and Little Land Company, which is an oil and gas corporation. While Ryan only has a 0.8% stake in Little Land Company, it is still one of his most valuable assets, generating nearly $50,000 last year.