There's nothing more embarrassing than shaking your fist at the devil, only to realize that you've unwittingly signed on to a few business deals with the same Senor Pitchfork.
That's the minor bit of malfeasance that Treasury Secretary John Snow is attempting to rectify this week. For those out of the know on Snow, he has been one of the administration officials leading the charge for change at government-chartered Fannie Mae
Well, it turns out Snow's investment advisor purchased some Fannie and Freddie bonds for him, though he'd asked for government treasuries. He was apparently too busy to read his brokerage statements for the past 14 months, because he didn't notice the goof until it was brought to his attention during preparation of his annual disclosure form. Cheap shot No. 1: Is this the kind of attention to fiscal detail you want in one of our nation's top managers of the collective moolah?
Snow has asked for further review, but has already been cleared of wrongdoing, and I have no doubt that he means to do the right thing. He sold the $10 million worth of paper for a half-million dollar loss. Before you shed too many tears, keep in mind that last year, he made $72 million courtesy of rail operator CSX
OK, I'll lay off the beleaguered former exec. Complying with your employers' investing rules can be tricky. I had to rush through some paperwork to make sure it was OK for me to scribble about Freddie, since I owned the stock in a direct investing account until the 11th of this month. It took, oh, five minutes' work, probably the kind of time that a big, important guy like Mr. Snow can't afford to spare. Maybe that's the real lesson here: Multimillionaire wise men like Mr. Snow can afford to skip the basics, like understanding what investments they own, but Fools like us know better.
Mr. Snow might want to let some of our crack newsletter writers handle his finances.
Fool contributor Seth Jayson offers to explain Mr. Snow's investments to him -- or scrub his toilets. either way -- for the bargain rate of 1/1,000th of the secretary's CSX income. He owns no company mentioned. View his Fool profile here.