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Disclosure Odds and Ends: From Airline Miles to Calves

Thanks to the Washington Post's Alec MacGillis, Capitol Briefing can give readers the 999,999th example of why members of Congress live, generally, more charmed lives than the rest of us schleps.

Take Rep. Judy Biggert (R-Ill.), who's holding assets worth between $1.8 million and $5 million, according to the financial disclosure form released yesterday. Last year she won a contest held by the Ignition Network to celebrate the United Airlines Mileage Plus program's 25th anniversary. Her prize: 1 million free miles, valued at $25,000, enough to fly anywhere in the world this year (just the sort of thing to take her mind off of her party's big losses in the '06 elections).
Oh, and in case you were wondering: In addition to the United miles, Biggert won $5,000 to cover federal taxes on the award.

Here are a few more odds and ends from yesterday's release of financial disclosure forms:

* The staff of Rep. George Radanovich (R-Calif.) clearly thinks he has better aim than Vice President Dick Cheney. His aides gave him a $650 shotgun for Christmas.

* How much does it cost to get a politician to tell a joke? If HBO's Bill Maher is your host, it's $800, plus airfare. That's what he paid Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) for her appearances on the show -- once in March 2006 and a second guest appearance in October. (The $800 appearance fees were donated to charity, as required under congressional rules instituted in the mid-1990s.)

* Rep. Tom Feeney (R-Fla) traveled to China for nine days in January 2006 and came home loaded down with souvenirs, courtesy of the National People's Congress of China and a state-run space agency. Feeney's detailed filing lists the gifts as stamps, books on Chinese space programs, coins, spaceship models and reproductions of a Terracotta Warrior and a Tsang Horse. Total value: $620. (That's a lot more expensive than the 125 English pounds it costs to play the Old Course at St. Andrews Links in Scotland, where now imprisoned lobbyist Jack Abramoff flew Feeney in 2003.)

* While many lawmakers bought and sold high-end real estate -- beachfront condominiums, luxury townhouses -- Rep. Leonard Boswell (D-Iowa) has simpler needs -- cattle and tractors. Under assets he bought or sold last year, he listed only one: "Sale of calves." And under his liabilities, only this: "Loan on farm tractor." But Boswell isn't some novice farmer; he sold between $50,000 and $100,000 worth of cattle and still ended the year with between $100,000 and $250,000 worth of calves. And while his tractor has him indebted to the tune of at least $15,000, his total farm equipment is now worth as much as $250,000.

More online and in today's Post:

* Lawmakers Cashing In on Real Estate, Financial Reports Reveal

* Asset Reports Put Webb, Warner Tops Among D.C.-Area Lawmakers

* Clintons Dissolve Blind Financial Trust

* Full list of disclosure forms

By Paul Kane  |  June 15, 2007; 8:31 AM ET
Categories:  House  
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