’04 Disclosures Reveal Mausoleum and More

Posted June 14, 2005 at 6:43pm

It was a big year in 2004 for the Senate, both politically and financially.

In the latest round of financial disclosure forms released on Monday, a number of prominent Senators reported big-dollar transactions last year that had a huge impact on their personal bottom lines.

Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), who has come under criticism for the dramatic growth in his own fortune over the last decade, steered more than $1 million into a blind trust that he set up last year, incurring more than $100,000 in tax liabilities in the process. Stevens announced earlier this year that he would create the trust.

The Alaska Republican sold his interest in real estate holdings in Anchorage and Fairbanks, and a subdivision development in Grantsville, Utah, as well as other financial assets, for slightly less than $1.2 million, and transferred the proceeds to the “Theodore Stevens Blind Trust” in Anchorage. The trust now holds assets valued at between $1 million and $5 million, according to Stevens’ disclosure reports.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) sold a land parcel in Las Vegas, plus his interest in an adjoining property, for between $1 million and $5 million. Reid still owns at least 200 acres in old mining claims in Nevada. He also donated $24,000 in honoraria payments he received for 12 speeches to charity.

Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) spent $3 million to buy the home of his brother, the late President John F. Kennedy, next to his own home at the Kennedy family compound in Hyannis Port, Mass. Kennedy bought the home from JFK’s daughter, Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg and her husband. Kennedy reported more than $50,000 in rental income from the property.

Kennedy donated $16,500 he received from a California media company to charity; Kennedy was paid the sum for weekly radio commentaries throughout the election year.

Sen. Tom Harkin’s (D-Iowa) wife, Ruth Harkin, bought and sold more than $1 million in stock from United Technologies in mid-August 2004. Ruth Harkin was an executive in the defense firm’s Washington, D.C., office until January of this year. She still serves on the board of ConocoPhillips, the oil company.

Donations to charities and payments from book publishers were common items on a number of Senators’ reports.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) easily outdistanced her Senate colleagues, earning nearly $2.4 million from book royalties [see related story], but Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) and Trent Lott (R-Miss.) were among those who reported tens of thousands of dollars in income from similar sources.

McCain earned nearly $82,000 from book sales. The Arizona Republican also took in another $27,000 from The Broadcast Group of Palm Springs, Calif., for weekly radio commentaries. McCain donated all $109,000 of those combined funds to charity.

Hutchison reported $66,667 in income from book sales, while Lott netted $57,613. Byrd received an advance of $60,000 from W.W. Norton and Co. for an upcoming book, and the firm picked up the tab for three trips the West Virginia Democrat took. Boxer got an advance of nearly $16,000 for a suspense novel she is writing.

At least a dozen Senators donated honoraria payments to charity, including Reid, Hutchison, McCain and Kennedy. The others are Sens. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), Joseph Biden (D-Del.) and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho). FEC Info reported that the total in honoraria payments donated to charity came to more than $87,000.

Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) reported an honoraria-turned-charity donation of $16, according to his disclosure form.

As usual, the Senate’s financial disclosure reports included a number of interesting tidbits.

Hatch, for instance, has retained the law firm Greenberg Traurig to represent him in contract negotiations for his burgeoning musical career. Hatch, an avid songwriter in his spare time, earned $14,839 in royalties in 2004. A Hatch aide said the law firm, which has been caught up in the scandal surrounding former GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff, will act as the Utah Republican’s agent.

On a slightly morbid note, Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) has a mausoleum crypt in Albuquerque, N.M., valued at between $1,000 and $15,000.

Domenici is also scheduled to begin receiving royalties this month for his book, “A Brighter Tomorrow: Fulfilling the Promise of Nuclear Energy.”

A number of Senators reported accepting valuable gifts. Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) received a statue valued at $6,500, which he promptly donated to the Voinovich Center at Ohio University.

Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) was given a number of pieces of crystal in tribute for her legislative efforts fighting crime and her work in support of “marine issues,” including a crystal plaque and three other crystal awards. She also got a clock worth $121 from the University of Maine Alumni Association.

Stevens received a hand-made rug and tea set from the president of Azerbaijan, which he then gave to the Secretary of the Senate.

The Alaska Republican was also the recipient of a “grape serving set” from King Abdullah of Jordan, and a watch from the president of France. Those gifts also went to the Secretary of the Senate.

Finally, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) received a .50-caliber handgun, worth $950, from Richard Torykian of Long Island. Torykian is co-founder of the Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation and a close personal friend of Leahy since college. Torykian also gave a similar weapon to Vice President Cheney.

“Dick Torykian is Sen. Leahy’s best friend from their days together as students at St. Michael’s College in Colchester, Vt.,” said David Carle, Leahy’s spokesman. Leahy is an avid gun collector and prize-winning target shooter, despite being born nearly blind in one eye.