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Financial Disclosures: A Look at Who Got Extensions

Today is unofficially "Opposition Research Day" here on Capitol Hill, otherwise known as the day when annual financial disclosure forms are due from all 535 members of Congress.

Occasionally providing a treasure trove of potential conflicts of interest to be exploited in the next election, financial disclosure forms (FDs in congressional parlance) must be filed every year on May 15, with the release coming 30 days later.

Of interest this year is the fact that 79 lawmakers -- 70 members of the House and 9 senators -- got extensions (most for one month, and in a few cases up to three months).

Extensions are often given to a lawmaker who has so much money that he or she has to take extra time to ensure its accuracy. (See New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg, co-founder of ADP, the check and data processing company; he won't file his FD form until Aug. 13.)

Then there are the newcomers to Congress. A huge chunk of those seeking extensions -- presumably because this is the first time they've ever filed these forms -- are freshmen senators and representatives. In the Senate, freshmen Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) were all granted extensions, with Corker and Whitehouse not having to file their FD forms released until August and Tester getting a one-month extension. In the House, at least 17 of those receiving extensions were freshmen lawmakers. (One is Rep. Peter Roskam of Illinois, whose disclosure forms will be available mid-July at the latest.)

Saving the best for last -- extensions were also granted to a few members who are under ethical clouds. Four of this group are involved in federal corruption investigations, and at least two more have had their personal finances scrutinized in the media. It is a federal crime to knowingly file a false disclosure form with Congress, and the Justice Department has increasingly used that statute as a cudgel against lawmakers and staff members targeted in corruption investigations (See: Plea agreements for former Reps. Randy "Duke" Cunningham and Bob Ney, both serving prison terms now, as well as the indictment against Rep. William Jefferson, now awaiting federal trial.)

Here's a rundown of the lawmakers who filed for extensions who are under ethical scrutiny:

* Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.): The U.S. Attorney in New Jersey announced an investigation last fall into Menendez's ownership of a building that he was renting to a nonprofit organization while also pushing for federal grants for the nonprofit. Menendez has to file his disclosure by close of business today, then has the option of releasing it immediately to the public or have it released in July.

* Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska): The Justice Department's Public Integrity Section is investigating several Alaska lawmakers, including Ben Stevens, the senator's son and former state Senate president, for accepting more than $400,000 in bribes from an energy executive who is a close friend of Sen. Stevens. Federal investigators have subpoenaed records related to a six-figure remodeling of Stevens's home in Anchorage, allegedly overseen by the executive, and have asked the senator to preserve any records he has related to the probe. Stevens has to close of business today to file his forms, meaning a likely mid-July release.

* Rep. John T. Doolittle (R-Calif.): His home in Virginia was raided in April as part of the long-running Jack Abramoff investigation, with Doolittle's role involving his wife's firm doing unspecified work for Abramoff for $5,000 a month while her husband performed multiple legislative favors for him. Doolittle's disclosure must be filed today.

* Rep. Paul Gillmor (R-Ohio): The Toledo Blade reported that the lawmaker lives in a home that is owned by a holding company run by a law and lobbying firm that has contributed to his campaigns, with Gillmor making mortgage payments to the holding company, which wasn't mentioned in last year's disclosure forms. He must file his forms by today.

* Rep. Rick Renzi (R-Ariz.): The FBI raided Renzi's home outside Phoenix searching for records related to a business in his wife's name, examining connections to a $200,000 payment he received from a business partner who would have benefited from federal land swap legislation sponsored by Renzi. He files his forms in mid-July, meaning a likely mid-August release to the public.

* Rep. David A. Scott (D-Ga.): The Politico reported that Scott owes $182,000 in unpaid taxes and has paid more than $600,000 to family members and the advertising firm he founded but transferred to his wife's control when he entered Congress. His forms will be filed today, released next month.

By Paul Kane  |  June 14, 2007; 5:05 PM ET
Categories:  House , Senate  
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