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[Washington Babylon]

How Gregory Nickerson Parlayed House Job Into Lavish Estate (Illustrated)

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In mid April, I reported on the case of Gregory Nickerson, the former top staffer at the House Ways and Means Committee who in 2004 helped shepherd through Congress a $140 billion corporate tax break with the Orwellian name of the “American Jobs Creation Act.” General Electric was the biggest beneficiary of the AJCA, winning a multi-billion dollar windfall.

I’ve now learned that the AJCA originated in 2001, as a report prepared by the National Foreign Trade Council, a group of 450 multinational corporations whose board members includes GE. According to a Washington Post story, the Council’s report was prepared with significant input from GE lobbyists and served as a blueprint for the corporate porkfest that Congress passed three years later.

You may have guessed by now that Nickerson was working at the National Foreign Trade Council back in 2001, and a source tells me that he had a hand in preparing the report. He moved to the Ways and Means Committee that same year and in early 2005, soon after having helped secure passage of the AJCA, Nickerson opened up a beltway lobby shop. GE immediately signed up as a client, as did a number of other companies that benefited greatly from the AJCA, among them Citigroup, Caterpillar, Pepsico, and Wal-Mart.

Indeed, Nickerson’s lobbying business appears to be highly lucrative. Public records I found show that late last year, he bought a lavish riverfront estate outside of Washington for a cool $3.6 million. Here’s a picture of that house—it’s fairly big, so you need to scroll to see all of it.

Meanwhile, Nickerson still owns a more modest home he bought for a paltry $620,000 in 2003, when he was forced to subsist on his government salary at Ways and Means.

It’s possible that Nickerson bought his new riverfront mansion after winning the lottery or inheriting a small fortune, though there’s no indication of that on the final financial disclosure form he filed before leaving the Hill. I contacted Nickerson to ask about his financial success in the private sector but thus far haven’t heard back from him.

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