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Did Barney's wedding ring violate Dodd-Frank?

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Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets

One of the more precious color details from Rep. Barney Frank's wedding to Maine welder Jim Ready July 7 was the story of their wedding bands, described as black diamonds set in tungsten.

Ready, a regular companion of Frank's at Washington social events, told the New York Times that he chose the welding material for the rings because "it helps keep me grounded, after going to lunch with the president." Tungsten is also popular ring choice for same-sex couples.

But some Tungsten is also illegal to use, especially if from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and surrounding countries in Central Africa.

And what made it illegal? The Dodd-Frank financial services bill, co-written by the newlywed, who this year is retiring from his Massachusetts House seat. What's more, Frank co-authored the U.S. Conflict Minerals Act in Section 1502 of Dodd-Frank with requires public companies including jewelers to disclose the use of "conflict minerals" such as tungsten from the war-torn areas. Frank joined a group of lawmakers outraged that the nations were enslaving their citizens for militias, often using rape as a weapon.

But Frank's office isn't talking about the issue, refusing to say if the tungsten used is legal or not. One email to his communications director seeking the name of the ring designer was met with a simple "No." Others went unanswered, as did calls to his spokesman. Ready also didn't respond to an email or phone call.

That's odd, said one critic of the provision which is being blamed for mass unemployment in the African nation and high compliance costs for U.S. firms, since Frank should have expected questions about the tungsten rings. "His namesake bill bans tungsten from Africa, he talks about using tungsten in his wedding rings, and he didn't prepare some kind of statement on it? Wow," said the critic.