Nelson sells Berkshire stock

After more than 30 years of owning Berkshire Hathaway stock, former Sen. Ben Nelson sold it all last year, in part out of tax considerations.

Nelson was asked Wednesday during a conference call with reporters about potential conflicts of interest with his personal finances given his new job as CEO of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

The association draws up model regulations for states that could affect property casualty insurance companies such as those owned by Berkshire, which also owns The World-Herald Co.

Nelson and his wife, Diane, owned more than $1.5 million in Berkshire stock, according to his most recent personal financial disclosure statement.

As allowed by disclosure rules on spousal assets, Diane Nelson’s Berkshire stock was simply listed as more than $1 million, while the senator reported $500,000 to $1 million in stock.

Capital gains tax rates are going up for those with incomes of more than $450,000 a year. Nelson’s salary will be $950,000.

Nelson said he sold all of his Berkshire stock at the end of the year, and his wife liquidated virtually all of hers.

He said that they made their decisions to sell the stock independent of each other and that it was simply a coincidence that the sales came before he took the job with the association.

“I think it was an independent decision, based on tax advice, based on investment advice, based on an awful lot of other considerations,” Nelson said.

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