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Editor/Founder: Bill Smith, Ph.D. [aka: OzarkGuru & 2010 AFP National Blogger of the Year]
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One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. -- Plato (429-347 BC)

Friday, June 12, 2009

Rep. Marion Berry Underreports Value of D.C. Property

Updates: Moe Lane at Red State said: [Berry's] been in Congress since 1997, which is certainly enough time to learn that ethics rules require that Congressmen are expected to not hide their actual net worth . . . Berry reported his house’s value as being within a range, which is specifically prohibited. Also, Berry rents out the residence for income, which means that he was really supposed to report its full value. I’d say that this was a case of Beltway Disease, except that he has a history that apparently predates his moving to Washington, DC.

Arkansas Republican Party Chairman Doyle Webb: "It's upsetting to see another misleading act come out of the Beltway. If a Washington insider like Marion Berry can continue to mislead his constituents on things as simple as this, what can we expect from him on issues that are critical to Arkansas families here at home?"

Rick Crawford, 2010 Republican Candidate: “It is unfortunate that this has happened and has distracted from the business of the First Congressional District. Too often politicians get to Washington and loose touch with the people back home.”

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by Paul Singer, Roll Call* (June 11, 2009): Rep. Marion Berry (D-Ark.) appears to have understated by hundreds of thousands of dollars the value of his Capitol Hill rowhouse on his annual financial disclosure forms.

In May, Berry filed a financial disclosure form reporting the value of the house at between $250,000 and $500,000, the same value that he has listed on his disclosure forms each year. But according to District of Columbia tax records, the current assessed value of the house is $947,080, and the proposed 2010 assessment value is $864,970, reflecting the drop in Capitol Hill property values.

Berry and his wife bought the house in 1999 for $369,000, but the rules for reporting property values on disclosure forms clearly state that the filer is to use "fair market value." If that value is unavailable, the filer may report the purchase price or the assessed value for tax purposes, but in those cases, the filer is required to report an exact amount, not a range, and to disclose which method is being used to determine the value. Berry's form offers no indication of how he is setting the value.

Members do not have to disclose the value of their homes if they are for personal use only; Berry rents the house and receives between $15,000 and $50,000 a year in income. When a house produces rental income, the House Ethics Manual explains that the value of the entire home must be reported, not simply the value of the rental unit.

Last year, Roll Call reported that ex-Rep. Joe Knollenberg (R-MI) had made the same error on his disclosure forms, and dozens of other Members - including then-Sen. Barack Obama - had filed disclosure forms with other mistakes and omissions.

Berry has also reported for years owning a property on Main Street in Gillett, Ark., with a value of less than $1,000. Berry's office was unable to explain the apparent errors on his form.
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*Roll Call is a subscription service. The above copy was provided by the RPA.

Tags: Arkansas, Ethics, financial disclosure, Marion Berry, Representative, Roll Call, US House To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Posted by Bill Smith at 9:45 AM - Post Link

2 Comments:

Anonymous Chris Tuthill said...

Another nail....so to speak?

6/13/2009  
Anonymous Debbie Wylie said...

Ethics are sparse in D.C. and at the Capitol in Little Rock.

6/13/2009  

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