State Journal-Register

June 17, 2003

Local lawmakers disclose financial reports

ByDORI MEINERT
COPLEY NEWS SERVICE

WASHINGTON - Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., bought a condo on Chicago's Lake Shore Drive last year, while Sen. Peter Fitzgerald, R-Ill., remains one of the richest members of the Senate.

Voters can get a glimpse of the lifestyles of the rich and sort-of-famous on Capitol Hill when their 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.

Fitzgerald's family banking fortune, valued at $51 million, helped him win election in 1998. He's not seeking re-election next year, but he listed liabilities last year of $2.13 million out of the $11.2 million he personally guaranteed for his last campaign. He collected $1 million to $5 million in dividends and capital gains from his Bank of Montreal stock, his report showed.

Unlike Fitzgerald, most Illinois lawmakers, including Durbin, are of relatively modest means. Those 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.

Durbin's new two-bedroom condo, valued at $272,000, is described by aides as small and modest, located "far away from the Gold Coast."

"He goes back to Illinois almost every weekend, and some weekends it's impractical to go back and forth" to his longtime home in Springfield, said Durbin spokesman Joe Shoemaker, explaining the purchase. He previously stayed in a hotel when in Chicago.

Durbin maintains the family home in Springfield, valued at $300,000, where his wife lives.

In Washington, Durbin rents a room from another House member. Members of Congress aren't required to list their primary residence on the disclosure forms, and most don't. Durbin owes $215,000 on the condo and $38,590 on the Springfield house, his report shows.

As an investment, Rep. John Shimkus, R-Collinsville, who represents part of Springfield, bought a newly built luxury townhouse in Washington 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 has a rental property in Collinsville that brought income of between $5,001 and $15,000 last year.

The only assets that 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.

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

Rep. Tim Johnson, R-Urbana, likes to spread his money around. He has accounts in more than two dozen banks totaling between $124,000 and $610,000 and earning interest last year of $9,825 to $39,000.

He also collected between $15,001 and $50,000 in interest from a installment contract on property he owns in Hawaii and $2,501 to $5,000 in farm income on farmland in Sydney valued between $100,001 and $250,000, as well as $84,539 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.