Politics & Government

Alaska tea party favorite Miller faces fines for late Senate disclosure filing

U.S. Senate candidate Joe Miller still hasn't filed the required forms meant to allow the public a glimpse at the investments, personal wealth and potential conflicts of interest of those who want to represent them. They were due months ago. "It was a simple oversight; we're already working on it, and it will be filed as soon as possible," Miller campaign spokesman Randy DeSoto said Wednesday.

Miller was required to file the disclosures with the Senate records office and ethics committee after receiving more than $5,000 in campaign contributions. Miller passed that threshold in April and did not ask for an extension. There's a $200 penalty for filing even one month past the due date and failing to file the disclosure forms entirely can result in a fine of up to $50,000.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who lost to Miller in the Republican primary and is now running a write-in campaign, submitted her disclosures. So did Democrat Scott McAdams. The financial disclosure forms are supposed to give the public insight into officeholders and candidates, but the Senate doesn't make it easy to see them.

They have to be picked up in person at the Washington D.C., records office. The fact Miller still hadn't filed his was reported Wednesday by the liberal blog ThinkProgress.

Murkowski's disclosures this year show that she, her husband and two sons hold a wide array of investment funds, including college funds for her children.

The amount of the funds are only required to be listed within a broad range on the disclosure forms, so the value could be anywhere from $177,000 to $909,000.

She also disclosed owning between $30,000 and $115,000 in First Bank stock, IRAs and CDs. Her husband received $16,950 in income from a pasta business he used to own, and they both earned $50,971 on their half of an investment property in Anchorage. They owe $50,000 to $100,000 on a mortgage on a commercial property.

Murkowski in 2008 revised her financial disclosures going back to 2004 to clarify income from a building sale and to disclose income from the sale of the pasta company. The revisions stemmed from Murkowski's decision to self-audit her past forms after watchdog groups filed a complaint with the Senate Ethics Committee over how Murkowski handled her purchase of land from a political supporters.

The controversial 2006 land deal was with Alaska businessman Bob Penney, who sold Murkowski Kenai riverfront property at what some critics called a sweetheart price.

Murkowski said at the time that she thought she and her husband paid a fair price for the land and that the deal was aboveboard, but that it had become a distraction, and that no property was "worth compromising the trust of the Alaska people."

Penney, long a major campaign contributor to Alaska politicians, agreed to buy back the property for the $179,400 price Murkowski and her husband paid.

Democrat McAdams' disclosure shows a $70,000 income from his job at the Sitka school district, as well as $6,000 for serving as the city's mayor. His wife has a salary of $75,462 from the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Care Consortium.

He reported a retirement fund over $50,000 and a mortgage of between $250,000 and $500,000.

The required financial disclosure forms provided the foundation of the criminal case against former Alaska Republican Sen. Ted Stevens, who was indicted for lying on his forms. A federal jury found him guilty, but the judge threw out the indictment after allegations of prosecutorial misconduct came to light.

Miller, who was in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday for several fundraisers, wouldn't answer any questions as he entered a Capitol Hill townhouse where one of the events was being held.

Miller also went out of the way to avoid questions on his way out, by using the rear exit of the townhouse. A driver in a black pickup pulled to the front of the townhouse and told Capitol Police he was picking up Joe Miller. Another man came out of the house and spoke to the driver, who moved the car to the alley behind the house. The driver, when asked by a reporter, denied he was Miller's driver. When asked if Miller would be exiting from the rear of the house, he said Miller was in the front. A few minutes later, the Nissan drove out of the alley and away with several people in it.

The fundraiser attracted most of the top Republican leaders in the Senate, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn, who heads the committee that raises money for Republican Senate candidates, attended the fundraiser for Miller. So did former Presidential nominee John McCain and other senators including Jon Kyl of Arizona, John Barrasso of Wyoming, and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee.

Sen. Jim DeMint, a South Carolina Republican who endorsed Miller immediately following the primary and has been raising money for him, left the event beaming. DeMint, who has been something of a kingmaker among tea party-backed candidates this election cycle, said he thought fellow Senate Republicans had "really come around to the idea that we need to get behind him" despite some residual goodwill for Murkowski among her Senate colleagues.

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