Did Senator Stevens’ Indictment Expose a Loophole?
The iconic Alaska Senator Ted Stevens (R) was indicted this week on seven felony counts. Allegedly, he lied on his his financial disclosure forms to conceal information about house renovations and gifts from an oil contractor that lobbied him for government aid. Stevens has claimed his innocence and says he will fight the charges.
Via the Sunlight Foundation, the folks at Real Time Investigations (which is a Sunlight Project) wonder whether Stevens could get off the hook by claiming that the renovations on his house were a loan that he was planning to pay them back for.
[I]f Stevens was borrowing money, labor and materials to renovate a residence from VECO rather than accepting it as a gift, I’m not sure Stevens would have to report it under current personal financial disclosure rules, which say,
property which is held or maintained solely for recreational or personal purposes does not have to be reported…. (p. 131)
Mortgages secured by a personal residence (including secondary residences) that are not used for rental purposes do not have to be disclosed. (p. 136)
Who knows whether this interpretation is correct or not, but some folks ain’t waitin’!
Today, Congressman Jerry Moran (R-KS) introduced a bill to require Members of Congress to include information on the value of any personal residence and on the balance of any mortgage secured by a personal residence in their annual financial disclosure reports.
H.R. 6644 is the bill, and what people think of it is below. Click to vote, comment, learn more, or edit the wiki article about the bill.
All in a good day’s work. If Senator Stevens gets off on this technicality – which is doubtful – he won’t the next time! (Full disclosure: I worked for Senator Stevens on the staff of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee in 1996.)