First District Democrat Jimmy Farris has made personal finances an issue in his challenge to GOP Rep. Raul Labrador.
Last week, Farris released a decade's worth of tax returns and pressed Labrador to do the same. On Wednesday, Farris seized on Labrador's statement that he was among the "poorest" members of Congress, saying a guy making a $174,000 salary and calling himself poor was out of touch with ordinary Idahoans.
On Thursday, the former NFL receiver and special teams player was embarrassed to admit that he'd mistakenly exaggerated his assets on his House Financial Disclosure Statement, saying his NFL annuity and NFL 401(k) were each worth in excess of $50 million.
Farris told me he was hurrying to complete the form and meant to tick the boxes putting those assets at between $50,000 and $100,000. In fact, Farris said, the accounts are worth $52,000 and $92,000.
Farris said he will move immediately to file an amendment.
I asked Farris whether his confusing $50,000 with $50,000,000 might suggest to some voters that the first-time candidate isn't ready to fill one of Idaho's two seats in the House.
"Saying I have over $100 million in assets, that's clearly an honest mistake," Farris said. "I mean, that's not me not knowing who the vice president of the country is or not knowing how many members there are in Congress. It's me rushing to get a document shipped off."
Farris likened the error to improper placement of a decimal point on a check. "It's just a mistake in the way that I was reading it. The things are printed sideways. I don't know that I looked at it all that long and hard....It's just an innocent, honest oversight."
The mistake is on the third page of a six-page document. Candidates and members of Congress are required to report the value of assets in ranges. The form has 12 columns beginning with "None" on the left and ending with "Over $50,000,000" on the right. The column Farris says he meant to tick for his retirement accounts is fifth from the left.
Farris filed two copies of the report with the Clerk of the House in March. A copy is filed with the Idaho Secretary of State, where I picked up the report. Nobody in the media had looked at the document until Farris raised the question of personal wealth. Labrador's net worth ranks 617th of 641 members of Congress, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, an estimated at between a maximum of $67,000 and a minimum of minus $131,000.
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