Lawmakers Reveal Personal Mortgage Debt

June 18, 2012

Personal financial disclosure forms for members of Congress released last week reveal how much mortgage debt lawmakers have on their primary residences.  Legislators previously had to disclose details only for income-generating rental properties.  The change, pushed by key officials on the Senate Select Committee on Ethics, aims to uncloak potential conflicts of interest.

Among the findings reported by the Washington Post:

  • Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) owes between $100,000 and $250,000 on his home mortgage in Searchlight.
  • Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) owes more than $500,000 on a pair of mortgages for homes in Arizona and Arlington.
  • Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) owes just over $15,000 on the mortgage for his family home in Brooklyn.
  • House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) took out a new mortgage last year, adding at least $500,000 in debt.
  • Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) has $200,000 worth of mortgages on his South Dakota residence.
  • Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-Va.) reported a mortgage in the $100,000 to $250,000 range on his Fairfax County home and another on a condo in Lee County, Fla.
  • Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.) has two mortgages—one for $250,000 to $500,000 on his home in Virginia and one for $15,000 to $50,000 on a Cape Cod rental property.
  • House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.), who initially omitted his mortgage and then filed an amended report, said he owed between $100,000 and $250,000 on his Mechanicsville home.
  • Rep. Donna F. Edwards (D-Md.) reported two mortgages—one for $100,000 to $250,000 and one for $500,000 to $1 million—as well as a home-equity line of credit between $15,000 and $50,000.
  • Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) owes more than $250,000 on his mortgage for his home in Cincinnati, in addition to a line of credit worth between $500,000 and $1 million.

While the disclosure rules give Americans a better idea of the net worth of their representatives, they only require a broad range of value, potentially obscuring totals by hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Source: "Congress Reveals Lawmakers' Personal Mortgages for First Time," Washington Post (June 15, 2012)