WASHINGTON -- Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and his new husband don't know if their wedding rings contain a conflict mineral regulated by the landmark financial reform law that bears Frank's name, according to a spokesman for Frank.
The rings are made of black diamonds set in tungsten, which is a precious metal commonly mined in the war-ravaged Democratic Republic of the Congo. Congolese warlords have channeled profits from metals like tungsten, often used in consumer electronics, to fuel a bloody conflict that has raged in the country for more than a decade.
The Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act contained a provision that requires companies to disclose the use of several conflict minerals -- including tungsten -- in their products if they come from the DRC and surrounding countries. Like many of the regulations promulgated by Dodd-Frank, which was signed into law two years ago this Saturday, the final details of the conflict minerals regulation are still being hammered out by federal bureaucracies and industry lobbyists.
"Congressman Frank and his husband do not know the source of the tungsten in their rings -- the provision of the law that would make it easier to find out the source of the metal isn't in effect yet," wrote Harry Gural, Frank's communications director, in an email to The Huffington Post.
A previous report from the Washington Examiner, which originally aired the allegations about Frank and his husband's rings, said that "some tungsten is illegal to use" as a result of Dodd-Frank.
The relevant provision "does not outlaw tungsten, but it requires public companies that are listed on U.S. stock exchanges to disclose the source of the metal," Gural said. "This provision is not in effect yet, but the SEC will release the language of its final rule on the issue at the end of August."
Earlier this month, Frank signed a letter with 58 other members of Congress that urged the Securities and Exchange Commission to finally implement the rule, which has been delayed for over a year. A report from the Government Accountability Office, released on Monday, cited "intense stakeholder interest and input" as a primary reason for the delay. The SEC had over 140 meetings with affected industries and human rights groups, which have engaged in a vigorous lobbying tug-a-war over the provision.
Once implemented, human rights groups like the Enough Project, which has advocated for the conflict minerals provision, hope it will play a small part in ending the violence in the DRC by nudging consumers and companies to stop indirectly supporting the conflict with purchases like wedding rings.
Gural said Frank would try to figure out the source of the tungsten in his rings.
UPDATE: 4:12 p.m. 8/1/12 -- Frank investigated the source of the tungsten in his rings. Below is his response:
In Greg Rosalsky’s article on July 18th, the question was raised about the source of the tungsten from which our wedding rings were made. I asked my Communications Director, Harry Gural, to find out.
The rings were bought from Crown Jewelers a reputable store in New Hampshire, which purchased them from Benchmark Jewelers in Alabama. The craftsman who made the rings says that his company buys tungsten carbide from a firm in Detroit and that he believes the source is a mine in the United States.
It will be easier to determine the source of tungsten when rules are finalized concerning the disclosure of the source of certain minerals. The Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act mandates that companies listed on U.S. exchanges disclose whether minerals they import are “conflict minerals,” defined as tin, tantalum, tungsten, or gold originating from the Democratic Republic of the Congo or an adjoining country that finances or benefits armed groups in those countries. In the future, this reporting requirement will make it possible for people purchasing items made from these metals to know the source with no uncertainty.
We all know that Benjamin Franklin was an exemplary American, embodying the thrift, industriousness, and political equality we celebrate every Independence Day. He earned the title of "The First American" for his crusade to unite the original American colonies, but his loyalty to the U.S. may not have extended to his marriage. Despite his memorable paeans to the institution (Franklin famously <a href="http://www.swarthmore.edu/SocSci/bdorsey1/41docs/51-fra.html" target="_hplink">said</a>, "Marriage is the most natural state of man, and...the state in which you will find solid happiness") and his claim that "It is the man and woman united that make the complete human being," Franklin notoriously surrounded himself with female admirers. Though there are <a href="http://www.time.com/time/2003/franklin/bfwomen2.html" target="_hplink">no reports</a> of his consummating his relationships with these much younger, attractive women, Franklin <a href="http://www.time.com/time/2003/franklin/bfwomen.html" target="_hplink">was</a> "a master of amorous friendship...expressed in exchanges of teasing kisses, tender embraces, intimate conversations and rhapsodic love letters, but not necessarily sexual congress." Photo Courtesy of Flickr: mbell1975
Our first president, George Washington, is famous for his <a href="http://xroads.virginia.edu/~cap/gw/gwmoral.html" target="_hplink">inability to tell a lie</a>. The honest streak that made him famous certainly benefited his wife, Martha Dandridge Custis. Although there is some ambiguity surrounding his relationship with Sally Fairfax, to whom he wrote letters alluding to his affections for her, by all reports any flirtation between the two was <a href="http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/books/item_Rcd4C8DfaGj16So9zrbXBM" target="_hplink">never acted upon</a> after Washington married Martha. Photo Courtesy of Flickr: mbell1975
John Adams' marriage to his third cousin Abigail was one of collaboration, communication and codependence. <a href="http://www.thelizlibrary.org/suffrage/abigail.htm" target="_hplink">Correspondence</a> between the two illuminates their mutual devotion and intellectual respect; the pair always <a href="http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/adams/peopleevents/e_courtship.html" target="_hplink">referred to one another</a> as "My Dearest Friend." Abigail influenced John politically, <a href="http://www25.uua.org/uuhs/duub/articles/abigailadams.html" target="_hplink">urging him</a> to advocate for the abolition of slavery and against institutionalized sexism. By all accounts, our second president reportedly held his wife in high esteem and the pair shared a happy, faithful and loving marriage. Photo courtesy of Flickr: mbell1975
If there is any American president deserving of a Lothario title, it is certainly Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson, who owned hundreds of slaves throughout his life, fathered six children by his "slave concubine" Sally Hemings during <a href="http://www.monticello.org/site/plantation-and-slavery/thomas-jefferson-and-sally-hemings-brief-account" target="_hplink">a relationship</a> that spanned at least 38 years. Although Jefferson <a href="http://www.monticello.org/site/plantation-and-slavery/thomas-jefferson-and-sally-hemings-brief-account" target="_hplink">freed</a> all of Sally Hemmings' children, he did not free their mother. Jefferson's wife, Martha, died while giving birth to their sixth child. Photo courtesy of Flickr: Tony the Misfit
John Jay, known as the father of New York and the first Chief Justice of the United States, reportedly shared a happy marriage with his wife, Sarah Livingston. Jay held a greater variety of posts than any of America's other founders, and Sarah acted as a political <a href="http://www.johnjayhomestead.org/images/The_Amiable_Children_Essay.pdf" target="_hplink">liaison and diplomat</a>, "astutely networking with the movers and shakers of the time." John relied on his wife considerably and the couple enjoyed a symbiotic relationship. Their marriage was a love match despite their ages -- he was 29, she was 18. Of their marriage, Sarah's brother <a href="http://johnjayhomestead.org/history/historicalessays.html" target="_hplink">wrote</a>, "Mr. & Mrs. Jay can be unhappy no where. They love each other too well..." Photo courtesy of Flickr: Jay Heritage Center
Our fourth president, the "Father of the Constitution" and author of the Bill of Rights, may have been a proponent of dividing power among the branches of government, but he did not believe in dividing his attention among women. James Madison married Dolley Payne Todd, a widow, and adopted her one surviving son. A <a href="http://www.lkwdpl.org/wihohio/madi-dol.htm" target="_hplink">charming, vivacious woman</a>, Dolley sacrificed her place in the Quaker community to which her family belonged in order to marry Madison. Ostracized from the Friends Church for marrying outside her faith, Dolley <a href="http://www.firstladies.org/biographies/firstladies.aspx?biography=4" target="_hplink">assumed the role</a> of White House hostess, holding dinner parties, salons and helping Madison to win reelection in 1812. Photo courtesy of Flickr: lreed76
Alexander Hamilton suffered through one of the first public media scandals of America's history -- but with good reason. The first United States Secretary of Treasury was forced to resign from office out of sheer embarrassment when his three-year extramarital affair with Maria Reynolds became public. Reynolds' husband, a convicted swindler named James Reynolds, blackmailed Hamilton, demanding a fee for his silence. But when a political pamphlet <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/books/99/04/25/reviews/990425.25beschlt.html" target="_hplink">revealed</a> the Reynolds liaison, Hamilton admitted, "My crime is an amorous connection with [James Reynolds'] wife." Hamilton responded with his own pamphlet, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/books/99/04/25/reviews/990425.25beschlt.html" target="_hplink">publishing</a> an "appallingly thorough account of the affair." Despite Hamilton's partially self-inflicted public humiliation and irreparably damaged reputation, his wife Betsey stood by her man and remained his wife until his untimely death during an <a href="http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/duel/peopleevents/pande17.html" target="_hplink">infamous duel</a> at the hands of political opponent Aaron Burr. Photo courtesy of Flickr: Marion Doss Photo