Senator Middlebrooks files for bankruptcy Republican blames bad investments

September 29, 1995|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

State Sen. C. Edward Middlebrooks Jr., who switched to the Republican Party to run as a fiscal conservative last fall, filed for bankruptcy protection this week in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, blaming bad real estay of the Chapter 7 personal bankruptcy statement filed Wednesday lists $587,000 in assets and $696,000 in liabilities.

"Had I listened to my father, I would not be in this situation. He warned me early on to stay away from real estate investments. That's one of those things where a father can say, 'I told you so,' " said the senator, who also owes money to his father.

Mr. Middlebrooks, 40, said he hopes political opponents will not use his financial crisis against him. He left the Democratic Party in May 1994 and became a Republican, positioned to run against his longtime political rival, Democratic Sen. Michael Wagner. He defeated Mr. Wagner in November's election.

"I guess all that cut, cut, cut he was talking about, he wasn't talking about himself," said Mr. Wagner. He also said he would not make political hay out of a rival's personal circumstances. He said he felt sorry for him and "I hope he works himself out of it."

Mr. Middlebrooks said he hoped voters would not view him harshly because of his financial woes. "I've worked hard for my constituents. I have tried to be there with them on the issues," he said.

Although the issue of personal financial trouble has never been tested in the county, it has not hurt candidates elsewhere, said Patrick Gonzales, who heads Mason-Dixon Campaign Polling & Strategy Inc. and has polled for Anne Arundel Democrats. He noted that President Clinton won in 1992 despite stories of marital and personal troubles. Sometimes the outcome depends what an opponent makes of the issue, said Mr. Gonzales.

"Voters sort of separate that stuff out," he said. But "ultimately, it is a negative. Any bad news is not good."

Mr. Middlebrooks, of Millersville, said yesterday that he invested quickly and extensively in residential real estate during the real estate boom of 1980s. Most of the investments were near his home. The market, and his investments, soured. Mr. Middlebrooks, a lawyer with a private practice and a title company in Glen Burnie, was his own real estate manager.

He said he has sold off most of his approximately one dozen

residential properties. Five, including his own house, which he is exempting from bankruptcy, are covered in the bankruptcy case.

He also owes $17,000 on a student loan for college and law school. The Internal Revenue Service has a $31,000 claim for 1992 and 1993 and a blanket lien on his real estate.

"My taxes were filed on time. I paid on time," Mr. Middlebrooks said. "Certain deductions were disallowed; my accountant is in the process of filing that paperwork."

He described himself as frugal.

"I recognize there was a problem. I tried to deal with it to the best of my ability," Mr. Middlebrooks said.

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