Jeff Merkley rent income disclosure comes under scrutiny

[Oregon GOP Press Release]

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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