Miller files financial disclosure forms with Senate

MONTHS LATE: GOP candidate faces fine, has substantial debt.

October 7, 2010 

WASHINGTON -- After a long delay, Republican Senate candidate Joe Miller has filed his financial disclosure paperwork with the U.S. Senate.

The disclosure forms, which detail the finances and potential conflicts of all senators and Senate candidates and are a requirement of both, were turned in to the Senate public records office Thursday afternoon.

Miller should have turned his form in some time this spring, when he had exceeded $5,000 in campaign donations. He never turned one in, though -- an omission that the campaign said previously was unintentional. His campaign had no comment Thursday.

Miller could face a $250 fine for turning the disclosure form in late; there's a $200 penalty for filing the disclosures a month past the due date. No one with the Senate Ethics Committee could say Thursday whether Miller will be fined.

Both of the other major candidates in the race, write-in Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Democrat Scott McAdams, turned theirs in on time.

The disclosure document for candidates is supposed to cover 2009, as well as the current calendar year up to Thursday's filing.

It shows Miller made $59,348 from his law firm and $38,056 from the Fairbanks North Star Borough. The disclosure forms also list 21 legal clients who paid him more than $5,000. His wife drew a salary from Fairhill Christian School, although Miller is not required to disclose how much she made.

The forms also show that Miller owes himself between $100,001 and $250,000 for a campaign loan. Documents filed with the Federal Election Commission show that he loaned his campaign $103,920 earlier this year.

Because senators and candidates are allowed to list both their debt and assets in ranges, it's difficult to determine their actual net worth. They're also not required to list any information about residences on which they earn no income, so it's almost impossible to paint a full picture of everything they own and owe. Their homes and vacation homes are exempt from the filings.

According to his disclosure, Miller has a substantial amount of credit card debt. That debt includes between $35,003 and $80,000 on three separate revolving charge accounts: two cards charging 10.24 percent interest with Bank of America from this year; and one zero-percent interest account dating to 2009 with USAA Federal Savings Bank.

He also owes a student loan valued at $15,001 to $50,000. A separate financial disclosure report released Thursday from Miller's time as a federal magistrate shows that in 2004 he owed between $30,001 and $55,001 for his law school education.

Miller and his wife have between $15,001 and $50,000 in a money market mutual fund IRA with TD Ameritrade, and own his law offices, valued at $50,001 to $100,000. Rent at the law firm brought in $50,001 to $100,000. He has a savings account with USAA valued between $15,001 and $50,000.

Earlier this week, Miller lashed out at Murkowski, saying she shouldn't have voted on the 2008 bank bailout known as the Troubled Asset Relief Program since she had investments in several of the more than 800 institutions that ended up taking bailout money. In particular, the Miller campaign singled out her investments in bailout recipients Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo.

Bank of America, which holds Miller's credit card debt, was a major bailout recipient. And Miller's judicial disclosure report from 2004 shows that, at the time, he had an account with Wells Fargo valued at as much as $15,000.

According to his disclosure forms, Miller also owns a share valued at $15,001 to $50,000 in A Street Apartments in Fairbanks.

He and his wife also own undeveloped farmland in Delta Junction valued at between $250,001 and $500,000. The land appears to be the same farmland he bought with a loan he took out with the state of Alaska's Agricultural Revolving Loan Fund. He has a 5 percent mortgage of between $50,001 and $100,000 on that property, according to the disclosure form. The disclosure report he filed when he was a federal magistrate shows that the note on the farm property was valued in 2004 at between $50,001 to $100,000.

Miller on the form also declared receiving the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend for seven dependent children, plus his and his spouse's dividend, for a total of $11,745.

Senators and Senate candidates are required to file financial disclosure forms to give the public a glimpse at the investments, personal wealth and potential conflicts of interest of those who want to represent them.

Murkowski has had her own issues with information on the disclosures. In 2008, she revised her financial disclosures going back to 2004 to clarify income from a building sale and to disclose income from the sale of her husband's 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 she handled her 2006 purchase of land from a political supporter.

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. 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.

Such disclosures also 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.

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