Inside Nader's stock portfolio

By Jake Tapper

Published November 1, 2000 8:20AM (EST)

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Jake Tapper's article about Ralph Nader's stock portfolio badly misses the point. Most Americans don't have a problem with people owning stock in corporations. They object to corporations owning our democracy.

Ralph Nader may be trying to get a reasonable return on his earnings to better support efforts to improve consumer protections and increase democratic involvement -- what a horrible sin!

-- Frank Winter

Is this the best you can do -- criticize Nader and LaDuke for owning shares in the Magellan Fund? The fund is so large and diverse that owning shares in it is practically like owning a share of the whole stock market. Not to mention, do we really expect them to monitor every trade the fund managers make?

Might as well criticize them for accepting a ride in a car (pollution), flying (indirectly supports Boeing) or wearing clothes with artificial fibers (supports big polluting chemical companies).

Please, at least make an effort to find some REAL dirt.

-- David Hoffman

Yes, I would feel better about Ralph Nader if he would divest the 200 grand or so that he has invested in the Fidelity Magellan Fund, and put it into some "socially conscious" fund.

But by simply quoting the number of shares this enormous and diverse fund has in certain socially reckless corporations, you make it sound worse than it is. For example, 0.082 percent of the value of the Magellan Portfolio is Occidental Petroleum stock. So Nader has an indirect investment in Occidental of between $120 and $200, or about 1/20,000th of his personal portfolio.

To compare this to Al Gore's "close personal and financial relationships with Occidental" that Salon and other sources have documented (including $500,000 to $1 million in stock) is simply ridiculous.

-- Don Raines

Kudos to Jake Tapper and Todd Gitlin for their articles in today's Salon. I note that Nader could not be reached for comment on his stock portfolio. If Tapper ever does get through, he may wish to consider asking the following:

1. Nader was the main impetus in pushing the Microsoft antitrust suit in Washington, holding workshops, "education" sessions for DOJ attorneys in the antitrust division and writing letters to the president and to the attorney general urging this suit forward. At no time during these activities did Nader ever disclose to the public, the subscribers to his e-mail lists, or to President Clinton and Janet Reno, his substantial ownership of shares in Oracle and Cisco Systems, two companies that stand to profit handsomely should the breakup of Microsoft happen. Would he care to explain the conflict of interest inherent in using not-for-profit organizations he controls to advance his own personal fortune?

2. As a shareholder in Fidelity, Oracle, Cisco and other corporations, and as a nationally known consumer advocate, Nader could well have availed himself of the public forum provided by those companies' annual meetings to raise issues he professes to care about, yet he never has. Why not?

3. Nader claims to support unions, and labor organizing, yet when editors working for one of his organizations tried to organize a union (Nader is famous for paying his workers substandard wages), he fired them. Would he care to explain this contradiction? (Yes, he plows 80 percent of his money back into his organizations, but 20 percent of a fortune of $4 million -- Nader's estimated net worth -- is still $800,000, far more in personal wealth, I daresay, than the people he fired possessed.)

4. Finally, can Nader define hypocrite?

Just curious ...

-- Ann C. Davidson

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