Representatives' financial reports vary widely

Maryland lawmakers' holdings vary from meager to millions

June 17, 1999|By David Folkenflik | David Folkenflik,SUN NATIONAL STAFF

WASHINGTON -- Marylanders in Congress include millionaires and those just making the middle class, financial disclosure forms released yesterday show.

The release of the documents is an annual exercise that makes many officials uncomfortable: most lawmakers -- even normally voluble ones -- declined to explain their financial reports in more depth.

Corresponding figures for Senators were released last week.

Lawmakers earn $136,700 annually, but some appear to need the money more than others. Republican Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett reported a net worth of several million -- an impression his spokeswoman sought to downplay.

"In 1961, the congressman purchased his 144-acre farm, with two barns and a house on it, for $70,000," said his aide, Lisa Lyons Wright. The land outside Frederick has appreciated since then -- it is now worth between $2 million and $10 million. The farm -- and several other properties owned by Bartlett -- helped generate between $32,000 and $105,000 last year in rental income.

Precise figures are impossible to derive from the forms, because holdings are characterized in broad categories of worth. For example, Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., a Baltimore County Republican, reported holding mutual fund investments worth between $74,000 and $410,000.

Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin, a Baltimore-area Democrat, had stocks, bonds and other investments -- most of which are set aside for retirement -- valued between $1.2 million and $3.4 million; in addition, a trust set up by the congressman's father generated $15,001 to $50,000 in interest income for Cardin and his wife last year.

Rep. Constance A. Morella, a Montgomery County Republican, and her husband, a former general counsel at American University, maintain a portfolio of assets worth between $1.02 million and $2.5 million, primarily retirement investments. She sold off $30,000 to $100,000 in stock in the Giant Food and Fluor corporations last year, and has two mortgages totaling $30,000 to $100,000.

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, a Baltimore Democrat who was a partner in a small law firm before he came to Washington, reported almost no personal wealth, other than the investments of his wife, from whom he is separated. He has two life insurance policies worth $100,000 to $200,000, from which he received $5,000 to $10,000 in income last year, according to his disclosure forms.

While Cummings stated that he received $1,000 to $15,000 in a payment toward the cost of the building that used to house his law firm, he also reported that he paid a "business tax" to the Internal Revenue Service of $15,000 to $50,000 by March 1, 1999. He did not return several messages seeking additional explanation. He has two mortgages of $65,000 to $150,000.

Rep. Albert R. Wynn, a Prince George's County Democrat, reported a single financial investment, a mutual fund purchased in 1996 that is now worth less than $1,000; he has mortgages of $250,000 to $600,000 on three homes.

The wealth of Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, a Southern Maryland Democrat, can be found almost entirely in a single retirement fund worth $250,000 to $500,000. Rep. Wayne T. Gilchrest, an Eastern Shore Republican, has financial holdings valued at $30,000 to $275,000, and reported selling his share of an inheritance worth $50,000 to $100,000 and $15,000 to $50,000 in common stock of Delmarva Power & Light Co.

Several members also reported traveling on trips paid for by others last year.

Morella took seven trips paid for by others last year -- including jaunts to Charleston and Hawaii, courtesy of a think tank; a weeklong trip to Israel arranged by the American Israel Education Foundation; a trip to upstate New York for celebration of the 150th anniversary of the women's movement in Seneca Falls, N.Y.; to San Francisco, to speak to a group of computer industry officials on the Y2K problem; and to New York City for Glamour magazine's women of the year awards.

Cummings reported that he flew to Portland, Ore., for a trip arranged by Nike; Charleston for a session of the Child Welfare League; and Chicago, New Orleans, and Hamilton, Bermuda, courtesy of labor groups.

Pub Date: 6/17/99

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