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Heitkamp’s Support For Ex-Im Looks Awfully Dubious Beside Her Personal Investments

Reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank would do little to benefit Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp’s constituents, but could do a great deal for her own pocketbook.

Heitkamp addressed Ex-Im’s 2015 Annual Conference Friday, where she discussed a bill she is sponsoring to reauthorize the bank’s charter, which will expire on June 30 unless Congress acts before then.

Ex-Im provides financing, mainly in the form of loan guarantees, to American exporters. Supporters claim this financing would not be available from private lenders, and that Ex-Im therefore boosts American exports and supports hundreds of thousands of jobs.

In recent months, however, a number of prominent Republicans, including nearly all of the current presidential candidates, have attacked the bank as a font of corporate welfare, pointing out that most of the bank’s financing goes to large corporations such as Boeing, which received 40 percent of the bank’s financing in 2014. (RELATED: Is the Export-Import Bank Done?)

According to The Hill, Heitkamp attributed opposition to Ex-Im to “philosophical difference,” and said that her experience serving on the board of a North Dakota bank has helped her to understand the vital importance of Ex-Im for American exporters.

In a press release, Heitkamp claims that Ex-Im “provides critical support [for] small businesses in North Dakota and across the country need to export their products around the world and grow their businesses,” pointing out that the agency has supported $100 million in exports from North Dakota since 2007.

What Heitkamp fails to mention, though, is that the same data she cites in her press release also indicates that just 0.03 percent of North Dakota’s exports were backed by Ex-Im financing from 2007-2014, as shown in an analysis by Veronique de Rugy, a senior research fellow at the free- market Mercatus Center.

Over the same period, the state accounted for a paltry 0.1 percent of the bank’s total authorizations, in contrast to Boeing’s home state of Washington, which received 22.7 percent of the bank’s authorizations, affecting nearly half its total exports. (RELATED: Exporters Worried Export-Import Bank’s Days Are Numbered)

Presumably, then, the outcome of Heitkamp’s next bid for re-election will not hinge on whether or not she supports the Export-Import Bank. Yet she is among the bank’s leading supporters in Congress, which begs the question of what she presumes to gain from her exertions.

At press time, Heitkamp’s office had not responded to requests from The Daily Caller News Foundation to explain that position.

Perhaps hers is simply an ideological pursuit, rooted in her concern for the health of the American economy, even those aspects of it that do not involve North Dakota. Then again, perhaps it has something to do with her investments in companies that benefit from Ex-Im financing.

According to Heitkamp’s most recent Senate financial disclosure, an annual report for 2013, she owns stock in Applied Materials, Inc., Berkshire Hathaway, Boeing, Vanguard Emerging Markets Stock Index ETF, and Vanguard Energy Fund Investor Shares—all of which have received Ex-Im financing in the past year.

The report only lists ranges for the value of those investments, but they are cumulatively worth between $233,000 and $745,000.

It is difficult to determine how much financing Berkshire Hathaway has received, because Ex-Im has reportedly mischaracterized hundreds of large companies and units of multinational conglomerates as small businesses, including some Berkshire subsidiaries. (RELATED: Small Business Becomes Pawn in Ex-Im’s Fate)

Applied Materials, though, has received Ex-Im financing worth over $485 million since 2007, according to Ex-Im data. The two Vanguard funds, meanwhile, are invested in a variety of companies that have received well over $1 billion in Ex-Im financing since 2007, including Exxon Mobil, Halliburton, and several Chinese banks.

At one point, Heitkamp described her support for Ex-Im as a continuation of “her efforts to expand North Dakota’s ability to export its high-quality products around the globe.”

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