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Eye On Boise

AP: Ward financial disclosure incomplete

The Associated Press reports that congressional candidate Vaughn Ward left off his wife's assets on his required U.S. House of Representatives candidate financial disclosure filing last year; Ward's campaign called it a simple mistake but said a new, complete disclosure report will be filed. Kirsten Ward has worked for Washington, D.C.-based Fannie Mae since 1999 and supports her husband and their two children while he campaigns; click below to read the full article from AP reporter John Miller.

Ward fails to disclose assets, vows to fix error
By JOHN MILLER, Associated Press Writer

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — 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 this 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.

U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson's wife, Kathy Simpson, works at the Idaho National Laboratory, a research site in eastern Idaho whose funding is steered by congressional votes.

Like Fannie Mae, the lab has benefited from federal money meant to gird the nation against financial collapse, getting $468 million from the 2009 stimulus act for cleanup. Rep. Simpson opposed the stimulus.

In his 2009 U.S. House disclosure, the most recent, Simpson details, among other things, his wife's Idaho National Laboratory-related financial accounts — including a $108,000 loss on her Vanguard INL employee investment plan, leaving that account with $147,000 on Dec. 31, 2008.

Kathy Simpson includes copies of her financial statements, not just estimates, in part to allay any conflict concerns.

"Obviously we are sensitive to the Idaho National Laboratory, but it goes beyond that, if you look at any of our reports, whether it be for congressional financial disclosures or for the Federal Election Commission, we strive to do everything we can to provide full disclosure," said Nikki Watts, a Simpson spokeswoman.

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

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

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