Thursday, June 17, 2004

Whose portfolios are up?

Ohio politicians disclose assets, credit-card debt - even winnings

By Malia Rulon
The Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Ohio Republican Bob Ney had a run of good luck last year during a brief trip to London: He won $34,000 gambling at the Ambassador's Club casino.

Ney's winnings were disclosed as part of his annual financial disclosure statement released Wednesday. The forms, which show outside sources of income beyond the lawmakers' $154,700 salary, also list assets, debts, gifts and vacations paid for by interest groups.

For example, the forms showed that Akron Democrat Sherrod Brown still makes money from his 1999 book, Congress From the Inside. He received a royalty check for $325 from publisher Kent State University.

The forms also showed that Cleveland Democrat Dennis Kucinich was paid $1,000 to appear on both The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn and The Bill Maher Show. Kucinich donated his earnings to the NAACP of Cleveland.

This annual inventory of elected officials' personal finances is designed to prevent conflicts of interest. Generally, the forms show that House members are less wealthy than senators, whose forms came out Monday.

Reps. Steven LaTourette of Madison and Ted Strickland of Lisbon were among those without large stock portfolios in 2003. LaTourette, a former county prosecutor, listed as his biggest asset a savings account worth between $15,001 and $50,000. LaTourette also listed a credit card debt of between $10,001 and $15,000.

Strickland, a former teacher and minister, listed a savings account and retirement account, each of the same amount. He didn't list any debts.

Ney, who chairs the House Committee on Administration, listed as his major asset a savings account worth less than $1,000 that earned interest less than $200. But Ney also disclosed that he reduced a debt on two credit cards - once totaling between $30,000 and $100,000 - to below $10,000.

On his London trip, Ney, of St. Clairsville, bet $100 in a three-card game of chance. He won a modest amount in an initial round, bet his winnings in a second round and won the $34,000.

Like many members of Congress, Rep. John Boehner, chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, supplements his paycheck with numerous investments. The West Chester Republican has a stock and pension plan at a plastics company valued at between $515,002 and $1.05 million and six mutual funds worth $146,006 to $365,000.

Rep. Michael Oxley, a Findlay Republican who is chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, has two money market accounts worth $65,609 and an IRA account valued at $64,580.

The reports also showed the delegation's most frequent traveler for 2003: Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones of Cleveland accepted 10 free trips to places such as the Bahamas with Carib News.

Brown accepted seven free trips, and Boehner accepted five, including a trip with a family member to The Homestead in Hot Springs, Va., for the Cigar Association of America's annual meeting.

Finally, the reports showed that besides holding committee titles in Congress, many Ohio lawmakers are involved in charities and other foundations: Columbus Republican Rep. Pat Tiberi is a trustee for the American Red Cross; Navarre Republican Rep. Ralph Regula is a trustee for the McKinley Museum in Canton, Ohio, and Upper Arlington Republican Rep. Deb Pryce is a board member at Washington's John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

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