June 24, 2011 > Reports offer peek into Congress members' finances
Reports offer peek into Congress members' finances
By Steve LeBlanc, Associated Press
BOSTON (AP), Jun 17 - Financial disclosure reports filed by members of Massachusetts' congressional delegation are offering a glimpse inside the stock portfolios and outside sources of income of the state's representatives in Washington.
The reports include a $700,000 book advance Republican Sen. Scott Brown received for his memoirs after his surprise win in last year's special election and a $2,000 round trip private airplane flight Democratic Rep. Barney Frank received as a gift.
Democratic Sen. John Kerry, one of the richest men in Congress, had by far the longest report - 85 pages with footnotes listing hundreds of stocks and other assets.
The $700,000 listed by Brown was the first indication of how much he was paid for his memoir ``Against All Odds'' after defeating Democrat Martha Coakley in the election to fill the seat left vacant by the death of longtime Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy.
Two months after the win, HarperCollins announced its book deal with Brown.
While his stunning victory in a state better known for electing liberal Democrats made Brown a national hero in GOP circles, it was his revelations about his sexual abuse as a child that helped spike interest in his book.
At signings, crowds stood in lines for hours to have Brown pen dedications in their copies of the memoir.
The $700,000 is listed as the advance for the book. Under another section of Brown's report, he indicates the contract also includes future royalties ``that are usual and customary'' for the publisher without offering more details.
As a U.S. senator, Brown earns a base pay of $174,000.
Frank's report lists the $2,000 private plane ride to the U.S. Virgin Islands under the section set aside for ``gifts.''
The report said the plane ride was the gift of Democratic Rep. Chellie Pingree of Maine and her fiance, S. Donald Sussman.
Sussman is founder and chairman of Paloma Partners, a Greenwich, Conn., investment firm. He is also a Democratic donor.
It's not the first time that Sussman and Pingree have offered Frank a private flight to the Virgin Islands. In his reelection campaign last year, his Republican opponent criticized Frank's decision to accept the gift, saying it showed he is too cozy with the financial interests that he oversaw.
At the time, Frank was chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, and shepherded through the House the Wall Street bailout and one of the most far-reaching financial regulatory reform laws in the nation's history.
A spokesman for Frank said he cleared the trips with House ethics officials, who recommended he list them as gifts on his financial disclosure forms.
``These are his friends so this is separate from business,'' said Frank aide Harry Gural, who described the trip as ``a getaway.''
Gural also said few hedge fund managers believe Frank has been soft on the industry.
Frank's report also lists a separate trip to Los Angeles paid for by NBC Universal between Aug. 26 and 31. Frank made an appearance on the Jay Leno show during that period. The show is filmed in Los Angeles.
Most of the financial disclosure reports by members of the state's congressional delegation ran about 10 pages or fewer.
The standout was Kerry's report, which includes trusts in his name and the name of his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, an heir to the ketchup company from which her family derived its wealth.
Other reports were a much quicker read, with far fewer financial holdings or outside sources of income to report.
Rep. Michael Capuano lists mortgages on three properties, including a rental property in his hometown of Somerville. Rep. Stephen Lynch also reports mortgages on two properties in the South Boston neighborhood of Boston where he lives.
Rep. John Olver lists among his assets more than 200 acres of ``unimproved land'' in two Massachusetts towns - Plainfield and Pelham - and Berlin Township, Pa.