Jeff Merkley rent income disclosure comes under scrutiny

[Oregon GOP Press Release]
MERKLEY’S ETHICAL RENT OVERDUE

SALEM, Ore. — Jeff Merkley is still struggling to answer why he did not lawfully disclose income from his multiple rental properties for three straight years. Rep. Charlie Rangel, financier and supporter of Jeff Merkley, is still at the center of a major national political scandal and under investigation for failing to report income from his one rental property. How will Jeff Merkley explain not reporting earnings from 12 rental units?

Oregon law requires legislators file an annual financial disclosure (Statements of Economic Interest) with the Government Standards & Practices Commission, including any earnings if it’s at least 10 percent of the official’s gross household income.

Let’s do the math:

Jeff Merkley’s earnings of $4,747 from the World Affairs Council of Oregon are at least 10 percent of his household income in 2003. (World Affairs Council, 2003 tax year form 990)

Jeff Merkley owns 12 rental units. If all 12 units were rented, the rent for each unit would have to be under $33 per month to not meet the legal threshold — using $4,747 as a baseline. What did Jeff Merkley’s campaign say when asked why they didn’t report the income? Oh, right: “The income from the properties didn’t meet the reporting threshold.” (Esteve, The Oregonian, 9/17/08) That sure is cheap rent.

Last week, the Oregon Republican Party called upon Jeff Merkley to explain to Oregon voters how his 12 rental properties did not meet the reporting threshold. His campaign’s answer? “I’m not going to discuss that.” (Esteve, The Oregonian, 9/17/08)

Wait, there’s more. According to court documents, one of the 12 units was rented for $950 per month. (Multnomah County Court Eviction Notice 11/21/03) The one rental property alone far supersedes the 10 percent reporting threshold for annual income — coming in at $11,400 of annual earnings for Jeff Merkley.

How will you explain your way out of this, Jeff Merkley? Perhaps Charlie Rangel has some tips for you.
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Posted by at 11:09 | Posted in Measure 37 | 7 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Jerry

    Maybe he forgot.

  • Jack Roberts

    Having filled these forms out myself for years, I’ve always assume the 10% of income threshold refers to net income, not gross. Consequently, the issue is not just how much rent you collected but what the associated expenses were, i.e., mortgage payment, property taxes, repairs and maintenance, etc. A lot of landlords I know make little or no net income on their properties, hoping to realize substantial capital gain when they sell it.

    I have no independent knowledge of Jeff Merkley’s finances, but in fairness I wanted to offer this as one possible explanation for the way he filled out his form.

  • CRAWDUDE

    Isn’t tax evasion illegal?

    I wonder if the WW is running an expose’ on this, like they did with the alleged illegals at Smith’s plant…….that still hasn’t been proven.

  • lw

    Merkley may be correct, but some research needs to be made. First, what is his annual gross income to determine the 10% rule? Secondly, what mortgage(s) may he have on the 12 rental units? And then there is the usual questions to ask if his expenses, write-offs on the rental are legit. Some rental property owners have a way of exaggerating the amounts besides the items attributed to be expenses. I’m sure WW will send out their reporters to get second hand quotes.

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