Peoria Journal Star

June 17, 2003

Voters get glimpse at finances of leaders
Disclosure forms show LaHood assets among the more modest amounts

By DORI MEINERT
of Copley News Service

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson, R-Urbana, earns more interest from Hawaii property than he does from farming in Illinois. U.S. Rep. Jerry Weller, R-Morris, last year bought a lot in Nicaragua and a condo in Washington, D.C., according to reports released Monday.

Voters can get a glimpse of the lifestyles of the rich and sort-of famous on Capitol Hill when lawmakers' personal financial reports are released each year. But it's just a peek. The financial disclosure forms required annually of members of Congress show outside income, assets and debts only in broad ranges.

Senators and House members who aren't in leadership posts receive an annual salary of $154,700.

Real estate appears to be a favored investment.

Weller last year purchased a lot in San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua, for an amount ranging from $50,001 to $100,000. He also bought a condo in Washington, D.C., for $100,001 to $250,000, according to his personal financial report.

He collects $6,000 to $17,500 in rent from properties he owns in Morris and Washington, D.C. Weller also reported mortgages and home equity loans ranging from $330,000 to $850,000.

U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson, R-Urbana, collected between $15,001 and $50,000 in interest from an installment contract on property he owns in Hawaii. He also reported receiving income of between $2,501 to $5,000 on farmland in Sidney valued between $100,001 and $250,000.

Johnson likes to spread his money around. He has accounts in more than two dozen banks, with a total amount between $124,000 and $610,000, and earned interest last year of between $9,825 to $39,000.

Johnson also collected $84,539 last year from his pension as a state lawmaker. Johnson lists a mortgage of $50,000 to $100,000 on a house in Urbana and a home improvement loan of between $15,000 and $50,000.

U.S. Rep. Lane Evans, D-Rock Island, receives between $5,000 and $15,000 in rent from a Washington, D.C., residence valued at $250,000 to $500,000 and a mortgage in the same range.

The only assets that U.S. Rep. Ray LaHood lists are retirement plans and IRAs in his wife's name. LaHood, R-Peoria, has between $130,000 and $300,000 in debts, mostly student loans for now-grown children.

U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, R-Collinsville, who represents part of Springfield, bought a newly built luxury townhouse in Washington, D.C., in December 2001 that is valued between $500,000 and $1 million. He rents rooms to three other House members but didn't list the rental income in the absence of a profit last year, his aides said. He also has a rental property in Collinsville that brought income of between $5,001 and $15,000 last year.