Jennifer Yachnin

And Congress’ Rich Get Richer
Net Worth of Lawmakers Up 25 Percent in Two Years, Analysis Demonstrates

Members of Congress had a collective net worth of more than $2 billion in 2010, a nearly 25 percent increase over the 2008 total, according to a Roll Call analysis of Members' financial disclosure forms.

Nearly 90 percent of that increase is concentrated in the 50 richest Members of Congress.

McCaul Leaps to Top of 50 Richest Members of Congress

Updated: 9:34 p.m.

Everything is bigger in Texas, including the bank accounts.

Pension’s Perks for Members With a Past

Even when they're on Capitol Hill, some Members of Congress are still on the state dole.

According to a Roll Call sampling of recently released 2010 financial disclosure reports, at least two dozen Members receive annual pension payments, ranging from a few thousand dollars to nearly $68,000, from their days as state legislators, officials or judges.

Rehberg’s Fortunes Go Up in Flames

Rep. Denny Rehberg’s fortunes plummeted by more than 80 percent in 2010, according to newly released financial disclosure forms, as the Montana lawmaker devalued ranch land damaged in a 2008 wildfire.

The Republican lawmaker — who has announced he is running for Senate — reported sharp reductions in the minimum value of his two largest assets, Rehberg Ranch and Rehberg Ranch Land and Livestock, which had been listed at a minimum worth of $5 million each in 2009.

Pelosi Appears Far Richer Than Last Year

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) reported a minimum net worth for 2010 that was more than 50 percent higher than the prior year, according to personal financial disclosure forms made public by the Clerk of the House on Wednesday.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) also saw a healthy growth in his minimum net worth, but the total change in his case is in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, while Pelosi’s is in the millions.

Democrats Appoint 10 Members to Investigate Ethics Cases

The House Ethics Committee moved incrementally closer Tuesday to resuming probes it started in the 111th Congress, as Democrats named 10 lawmakers to serve on investigative subcommittees.

Under House rules, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) must each appoint 10 lawmakers, in addition to the Members on the Ethics Committee, to serve on potential investigative subcommittees.

Members Collect Many Unpaid Tickets
Members of Congress have immunity from many routine parking tickets in the District of Columbia, but that doesn’t mean they can’t try to rack up fines....
Hampton Case a Reminder of ‘Revolving Door’ Crimes

Ethics experts suggest former Senate aide Doug Hampton’s indictment last week over allegations that he violated Congressional “revolving door” rules will serve as a stark reminder on Capitol Hill and K Street that lobbying rules carry real penalties. 

A federal jury indicted Hampton last week on charges that he broke conflict-of-interest laws because he contacted his former boss, Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.), in violation of the chamber’s one-year lobbying ban for former aides.

Former Top Ensign Aide Charged

Updated: 6:26 p.m.

Former Senate aide Doug Hampton has been indicted on charges that he violated conflict of interest laws — over allegations that he contacted his former boss, Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.), in violation of the chamber’s “revolving door” rules — the Justice Department announced Thursday.

Groups Call on Ethics Panel to Complete Waters Case

Government reform advocates called Wednesday for the House Ethics Committee to complete its stalled investigation of Rep. Maxine Waters, calling an indefinite postponement of the inquiry “unfair” to the California Democrat and the House.

In a letter to Ethics Chairman Jo Bonner (R-Ala.) and ranking member Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.), six organizations asked the committee to announce when it intends to restart the probe.

Missouri GOP to Amend McCaskill Ethics Complaint

Updated: 5:23 p.m.

Missouri Republicans called Tuesday for Sen. Claire McCaskill to release income tax records related to her family’s ownership of a private aircraft that she has used for official Senate travel.

McCaskill Admits Failing to Pay Taxes on Airplane

Updated: 6:35 p.m.

Sen. Claire McCaskill acknowledged Monday that she and her husband failed to pay $287,000 in property taxes on a private aircraft that she used for official Senate travel and announced she intended to sell the “damn” plane.

Loaning a Campaign Cash but Not Writing It Down

Correction Appended

Members of Congress have discovered another way to err on their annual financial disclosure reports. 

Members Shelled Out $87,000 for Training

Sometimes, even a Member of Congress needs help speechifying.

Rep. Rob Wittman shelled out more than $3,200 from his official office budget in December 2009 to Altamont, Tenn.-based Podium Master, which conducts public speaking seminars and offers private coaching.

Ethics Committee Has Slow Start

Following a year in which it conducted more than 100 inquiries and a rare public trial, the House Ethics Committee has had a glacial start in the 112th Congress.

Although the Ethics panel has taken small steps in 112th Congress — issuing committee rules in February, posting wanted ads for staff vacancies — sources familiar with the panel, as well as government reform advocates who monitor the committee, agreed the panel is moving slowly.

Lankford Invited His Campaign Donors to Testify

Rep. James Lankford (R-Okla.) praised the panel of witnesses at a recent Transportation and Infrastructure Committee field hearing in his district, saying, “The best ideas come from individuals who see and breathe the issues not just from Washington.”

But it doesn’t hurt if those individuals are also campaign donors.

LoBiondo Staffer Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

Rep. Frank LoBiondo's former treasurer plead guilty Friday to embezzling more than $450,000 from the Republican's campaign accounts, the Justice Department announced.

Andrew McCrosson, who served as the New Jerseyan's campaign treasurer for nearly 15 years, pleaded guilty in a New Jersey federal courthouse to one count of embezzling funds and one count of wire fraud.

Senate Attorneys Subpoenaed by Grand Jury

The Senate’s own labor attorneys have been subpoenaed by a federal grand jury.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) introduced a resolution Thursday to allow the Senate to pay for private attorneys for the chamber’s Chief Employment Counsel Jean Manning and Senior Chief Employment Counsel Erica Watkins.

Lofgren: Ethics Panel’s New Offices Unsuitable for Sensitive Work

Former House Ethics Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren decried the panel’s new offices on Tuesday as “dysfunctional” and unfit for confidential work, and the panel’s current leaders acknowledged they would welcome a relocation.

“It’s certainly not the committee’s fault, it wasn’t their choice to move, but I’ll just say it, I think the space is terrible,” the California Democrat said during a House Administration Committee hearing. Lofgren is a member of the Administration panel, which was reviewing House committee budget requests for the 112th Congress.

Lawsuits, Debts Plague Rep. Bobby Rush
Many Court Cases and Debts Go Undisclosed

Rep. Bobby Rush has been sued repeatedly in local courts for contract disputes including unpaid bills, but thanks to quirks in Congressional reporting requirements, his annual financial reports offer no hint of that fiscal turbulence. 

According to public court records and media reports, the Illinois Democrat has been named in nearly two dozen lawsuits since the early 1980s, most recently disputes over his home mortgages and bills owed by the Chicago church he leads.