Some Colo. Lawmakers Disclose Travel and Financial Interests

June 19, 2012

STILL WAITING: Taxpayers will have to wait to review financial discolsures for Sen. Mark Udall, Rep. Jared Polis of Boulder (pictured), and Rep. Ed Perlmutter of Lakewood. The three Democrats have filed for extensions.

WASHINGTON – Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Denver) owes between $365,000 and $1.05 million on four mortgages for her two homes in Denver and Washington. Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) owes between $190,000 and $465,000 on three mortgages for a home in Yuma and a condominium in Denver.

Those two details were found in the personal financial disclosure forms that Congress released last week, an annual event designed to reveal lawmakers’ possible conflicts of interest. The forms painted a fuller picture than before, showing for the first time the mortgages that U.S. senators and representatives owe on their primary and secondary residences.

In previous years, all 535 members of Congress were required to disclose their annual financial liabilities, transactions, assets, sources of income, and job-related trips. Now federal lawmakers must report not only the revenue or loss on rental income, but also any liabilities on mortgages for their personal homes. The change is the result of a provision in the Stock Act, a law passed this spring that targets congressional insider trading.

To ordinary Americans, some of lawmakers’ debts and investments will sound familiar.

Gardner owes between $15,001 and $50,000 on a federal student loan he took out a decade ago and between $10,001 and $15,000 on a MasterCard credit card. The wife of Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Susan Daggett, has set up two different college investment funds, worth $100,002 and $200,000, for each of the couple’s three young daughters — Caroline, Haline, and Anne.

The forms also underline the wealth that even rank-and-file members of Congress possess, in addition to the $174,000 annual salary they receive. (The personal disclosure forms require members to provide ballpark rather than exact figures).

Housing is one indicator. While the housing market crash has forced many Americans to get rid of their second mortgages, Reps. DeGette and Gardner retained theirs. Sen. Bennet has paid off the mortgage of his primary residence in Denver and owes between $250,001 and $500,000 on a home in Washington, D.C. Bennet’s wife made roughly $31,600 in interest and rent on two limited partnerships on a 15,000-acre farm in Marianna, Ark., which produces cotton, soybean, wheat, and rice.

Investments are another. Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez.) earned between $67,000 and $180,000 in capital gains when he made four sales on August 8 last year. Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) made 12 purchases and 17 sales of stocks and options, including a purchase and sale of between $15,001 and $50,000 each for the stock of Net App. Inc., a Silicon-Valley based technology firm.

In addition, the forms include travel disclosures for members foreign and domestic foreign junkets. Subsidized by think tanks and interest groups, federal lawmakers and often a family member get free meals, lodging, and air fare.

Lamborn listed five trips on his forms, the most among the delegation’s members. The Franklin Center for Global Policy Exchange paid for Lamborn and a family member to travel to Panama City in Panama last October, while the American Israel Education Foundation sponsored Lamborn and his wife’s 10-day trip to Tel Aviv, Israel last November.

Several of Lamborn’s House colleagues also traveled abroad last year. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Lone Tree) traveled to Communist China in the spring for nine days courtesy of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, while DeGette went on a seven-day trip to Tokyo in February 2011 as the guest of the Japan Center for International Exchange.

Three Democratic members of Colorado’s congressional delegation — Sen. Mark Udall, Rep. Jared Polis of Boulder, and Rep. Ed Perlmutter of Lakewood – filed for extensions. Aides to the Clerk of the House of Representatives did not comment by press time whether Polis and Perlmutter were granted extra time.

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