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The Nation

Rep. Calvert's Land of Plenty

He has earmarked funds for Riverside County projects near properties he sold for a profit.

May 15, 2006|Tom Hamburger, Lance Pugmire and Richard Simon | Times Staff Writers

"These highway interchange projects are performance-enhancing drugs when it comes to property values," said Ashdown, who advocates full disclosure of earmarks and a rule that would require any lawmaker securing one to disclose property interests at the time of the earmark.

Federal agencies, including the Department of Transportation, repeatedly have asked to review earmarks with House members. And many have done just that, but Calvert is not among them, according to a Transportation Department official.

Calvert said Friday that members know their districts' needs better than officials in the executive branch do.

Early last summer, another deal developed when Harpole -- vice president of Calvert's real estate firm -- bought property with a group of investors at 20330 Temescal Canyon Road, a few blocks from the site of the proposed interchange at Cajalco and I-15. The purchase price was $975,000. Within six months, they sold the parcel for $1.45 million.

Calvert's firm took a commission on the sale.

Calvert owns other properties that might be affected by his earmarks. For example, he and Harpole own properties close to a bus depot for which the congressman sought funding in Corona. He and Harpole sold one of those parcels in 2005; Calvert said the earmark had no effect on the value of the property.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday May 18, 2006 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 2 inches; 74 words Type of Material: Correction
Rep. Calvert and freeway interchange: An article in Monday's Section A about real estate deals involving Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Corona) said the lawmaker had secured federal funds to build an interchange between Interstate 15 and Cajalco Road in Riverside County. The funds are for a major overhaul and expansion of an existing interchange. The accompanying graphic referred to the project as a proposed interchange when it should have identified it as the proposed improvement.

Describing how he and Calvert work together, Harpole said, "We never talk about politics, and I don't talk about things in real estate except to say, 'Yes, we are paying our bills and we have money in our account.'

"And of course I have to consult with him if we are looking at investing his money" in a real estate deal, he added. Recently, Harpole said, "I told him about one and he said, 'No, I don't think so.' "


Hamburger and Simon reported from Washington and Pugmire from Riverside County. Times staff writers Walter F. Roche Jr. and Willem Marx in Washington contributed to this report.

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