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In his spare time (no doubt while watching nonstop basketball this ?weekend), our Creative Director came up with a way to visualize the estimated net worth of the top 16 wealthiest members of Congress.
LegiStorm - an insanely useful site of congressional information including staffer salaries and other disclosures - has, for the first time, posted PDFs of the personal financial disclosures that some staffers are required to file. For every member of Congress, at least one staffer must file a personal financial disclosure. If a staffer is making the maximum pay, as some chiefs of staff do, they must file a disclosure. Staffers hold a lot of power on Capitol Hill and are often overlooked as recipients of undue influence from outside groups. LegiStorm notes this in their press release:
Most disclosures are relatively mundane and appear to demonstrate those staffers have no discernible potential conflicts of interest, Friedly said. However, hundreds of staffer disclosures reveal ties to interest groups and lobbying firms, either as a past job, a spouse's work or a future employment agreement. Others reveal lucrative side jobs, adding as much as $100,000 or more to their federal pay.
Laura McGann of TPM Muckraker writes about an odd wrinkle in the personal financial disclosure rules that's being advanced by an aide to Sen. Lisa Murkowski to explain her failure to dislcose some property she bought. To briefly recap McGann's story, Murkowski bought some undeveloped land from Bob Penney, a politically connected Alaskan real estate developer (he's quite close to Sen. Ted Stevens). Local realtors consulted by McGann suggest the property might sell on the open market for as much as $300,000. How much Murkowski actually paid is unknown--the transaction price in Alaskan real estate deals are not public, Penney isn't talking and Murkowski didn't list the purchase on her personal financial disclosure form because, her office says, the land is for personal use:
Murkowki's office called the purchase exempt from Senate financial disclosure, citing a clause in the ethics manual which says "property which is held or maintained solely for recreational or personal purposes does not have to be reported." (ethics manual) The committee declined to comment for this story. "She bought this for personal use just like millions of other people," Danielle Holland said. "My response to your question, times six, is it's for personal use."Continue reading