In a breaking development that may affect the close California Senate race, Pajamas Media has learned The Foundation for Ethics in Public Service sent a letter to Eric Holder last Thursday requesting the attorney general “begin an investigation to determine whether United States Senator Barbara Boxer violated any criminal laws or should be liable for any civil penalty for failure to disclose real property on her Personal Financial Disclosure Reports between 2002 and 2010.”
The Foundation for Ethics in Public Service is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization “that seeks to bring a new level of transparency, accountability and integrity to all levels of government in the United States.” Boxer is the chair of the Senate Select Committee on Ethics.
The specific property FEPS is referring to is an Oakland, California, home valued at over a million dollars and co-owned by Boxer, her husband Stewart, their son Douglas, and his wife Amy. The letter to Holder reads in part:
Despite the fact that Senator Boxer had an ownership in 854 Longridge Road [in Oakland], she failed to report this substantial real property asset on any of her personal financial disclosures between 2002 and 2010. She had also failed to report the mortgage on the property. Further, she failed to report the purchase of 854 Longridge Road in 2002. Each year Boxer was required to have filed a “full and complete report.”
The filing of false or incomplete disclosure statements is in violation of the Ethics in Government Act. The Act authorizes the Attorney General of the United States to seek civil penalties against Senators who knowingly and willfully falsify or fail to report required information. The knowing and willful concealment of the existence of substantial amount of real property for a prolonged period may subject Senators to federal criminal prosecution under 18 U.S.C. paragraph 101. [other citations are available at the link]
The Oakland home is currently lived in by Douglas and his wife. This is not the first time Senator Boxer’s son has been the center of controversy. The senator reportedly paid out nearly $500,000 from her campaign contributions to her son’s public relations firm between 2001 and 2009. Those moneys could have been used to pay off the mortgage on the Oakland property, adding urgency to the DOJ investigation sought by The Foundation for Ethics in Public Service and further complicating the legal and ethical issues involved.
Indeed, ethical questions have been dogging the chair of the Senate Select Committee on Ethics of late. According to an October 13 Washington Examiner article by Marta Mossburg (“It’s time for Sen. Barbara Boxer to come clean on her mortgage loans“), Boxer held no fewer than seven mortgages with Countrywide Financial, the company at the center of the mortgage scandal she was investigating as chair of her committee.
Despite the obvious impropriety, Boxer did not recuse herself. Instead she signed as “chair” the letter that exonerated Chris Dodd after the Connecticut senator got favorable mortgage rates from Countrywide. That letter — available at the ethics.senate.gov site — is worth reading now in light of what we have learned of Boxer’s own activities.
If Barbara Boxer is returned to the Senate, she will resume her position as chair of the Senate Select Committee on Ethics. It is she who will preside over investigations into the ethical behavior of our senators.