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Ward failed to disclose wife’s assets

Sat., April 24, 2010, midnight

Congressional hopeful vows to fix oversight

BOISE – Republican congressional hopeful Vaughn Ward didn’t disclose all his family’s assets in a U.S. House of Representatives filing last year, as is required, but vowed to fix it.

Ward’s campaign called it a simple mistake: Because House rules don’t force Ward to disclose his wife’s salary, he thought that meant he didn’t need to report her assets, either, including any retirement accounts or investments.

Kirsten Ward has worked for Washington, D.C.-based Fannie Mae since 1999 and supports her husband and their two children while he campaigns.

Vaughn Ward, 41, a U.S. Marine major running in the May 25 primary against state Rep. Raul Labrador, said he doesn’t think his wife’s business should play a role in the race. He also said national Republican Party lawyers vetted his financial disclosure last year before he submitted it.

Still, his campaign said Friday it would file a new, complete disclosure listing her assets.

“Every quarter, I have to comply with a whole slew of rules,” Vaughn Ward said. “If there are mistakes, I will jump on them, clear them up and move on.”

Ryan O’Barto, Ward’s campaign manager, said Ward’s wife was filling out a new disclosure Friday and it would likely be available early next week.

Except under rare circumstances, candidates for the U.S. House must disclose details about any assets of spouses or dependents that are worth more than $1,000, including their approximate values.

Vaughn Ward’s April 30, 2009, disclosure lists just two joint assets: An Arlington, Va., home worth between $500,000 and $1 million and property in Cascade, Idaho, valued between $250,000 and $500,000.

There’s nothing from his wife.

Disclosure is important because it allows the public to learn of potential conflicts between a lawmaker’s vote – or a candidate’s campaign donors – and any family interests.

Fannie Mae has benefited from a federal takeover and a $76 billion infusion of taxpayer money since 2008 as subprime mortgages it packaged into securities soured – and could well be affected by future votes in Congress.

Vaughn Ward has railed against such bailouts during his campaign.

He has also made an issue of the wealth of U.S. Rep. Walt Minnick, D-Idaho, his potential general election foe in November – should Ward win the primary.

Vaughn Ward contends Minnick, a millionaire according to his own U.S. House disclosure, is out of touch with regular Idaho residents.

“We’re not rich. We struggle,” Vaughn Ward said.

But without access to the full information about his family’s assets, it’s difficult for voters to judge for themselves just how their accounts really compare.

“Walt worked as an Idaho businessman for over three decades and is not only proud of his success but proud to have helped create success for many Idahoans,” Minnick spokesman John Foster said.

Labrador, from Eagle, said Friday he had filed a House financial disclosure but declined to provide a copy to the Associated Press.


 

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