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DeLay Reports 5 Trips Last Year -- All in U.S.

The House majority leader, who has been questioned over who paid for past travels, discloses finances along with other lawmakers.

June 16, 2005|Mary Curtius and Chuck Neubauer | Times Staff Writers

WASHINGTON — House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas), who faces questions about the financing of his travels abroad, stayed close to home in 2004, reporting five trips -- all within the United States -- paid for by outside groups.

In financial disclosure statements released Wednesday, many House members reported taking trips paid for by think tanks, corporations and nonprofit organizations. It is legal for such groups to pay for trips under House rules, as long as they are reported. It is a violation for members to take trips paid for by lobbyists or registered foreign agents.

Congressional travel has been more closely scrutinized since news reports revealed this year that DeLay took a trip to a Scottish golfing resort in 2000 arranged by a lobbyist now under federal investigation, and another trip in 2001 to South Korea arranged by an organization registered as a foreign agent.

DeLay has insisted he did nothing wrong, and has offered to explain his travel to the House ethics committee, which has remained paralyzed since January by a partisan dispute.

Since reports on DeLay's travels, other House members -- Democrats and Republicans -- and staff members have filed a flurry of reports about past trips they had failed to disclose.

DeLay reported taking a three-day trip to St. Michaels, Md., in January 2004, and a three-day trip to Richmond, Va., in November 2004. The trips were retreats paid for by the Congressional Institute, a nonprofit group, and were attended by other members of Congress and staff members.

Also in January of last year, DeLay traveled from Philadelphia to New York at the expense of IDT Inc., an international telecommunications company whose chairman, Howard Jonas, was honored there by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a pro-Israel lobbying group.

In February 2004, the Barbara Sinatra Children's Center underwrote a DeLay trip to Palm Springs for a charitable event. And in April 2004, he traveled to Miami, courtesy of the nonprofit DeLay Foundation for Kids.

DeLay, who earned a $175,700 salary in 2004 as a House leader, reported assets that included stock in Exxon Mobil Corp. worth between $50,001 and $100,000. He earned dividends on the stock worth between $1,001 and $2,500.

The disclosure rules require lawmakers to report the values of assets and liabilities within broad ranges.

They do not have to report the value of personal residences, unless they receive rental income from the property.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), the House minority leader, emerged again as the chamber's wealthiest leader, with assets of at least $23.7 million.

Her major assets include a St. Helena, Calif., vineyard on Zinfandel Lane valued at between $5 million and $25 million. It carries a mortgage estimated at between $1 million and $5 million.

She was one of several members of the California delegation who listed assets that placed them comfortably in the ranks of multimillionaires. Others were Reps. Jane Harman (D-Venice), Darryl E. Issa (R-Vista), David Dreier (R-San Dimas) and Gary G. Miller (R-Diamond Bar).

Harman, the ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee, is married to Sidney Harman, founder of Harman International Industries. She reported that he has stocks and stock options in the stereo equipment manufacturing company worth at least $100 million. They also control multimillion-dollar trust funds.

Issa made his fortune as the founder of a car-alarm business before being elected to Congress in 2000. Among the major assets he reported were two real estate companies that own offices and light-industrial property in California with a combined value of more than $75 million.

Dreier, chairman of the House Rules Committee, reported assets worth at least $6.6 million and as much as $28 million. He owns an apartment building in Kansas City, Mo., valued at between $5 million and $25 million, and Viacom stock worth at least $500,000.

Miller, who serves on the House Financial Services Committee, remains president of the real estate development company he founded, G. Miller Development Co. He reported buying 382 acres in Rancho Cucamonga in 2004 that were valued at between $5 million and $25 million. Miller also reported at least $5 million in a bank account, on which he earned at least $100,000 in interest.

Other House leaders are of more modest means, including Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.).

Hastert's House leadership salary in 2004 was $203,000. He listed a Washington town house with an estimated value of $250,001 to $500,000, with a mortgage of between $50,001 to $100,000. In 2004, he collected rents of between $5,001 and $15,000 on the property.

Hastert also listed a Bear Stearns mutual fund worth between $50,001 and $100,000 among his assets.

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