Archive for Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Moran defends living in C Street townhome

April 7, 2010, 9:31 a.m. Updated April 7, 2010, 3:53 p.m.

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— A group that filed an ethics complaint accusing nine members of Congress of paying below-market rents to live in a Washington home affiliated with a Christian group opposes public servants openly practicing their Christian faith, said one of the accused lawmakers.

Rep. Jerry Moran, from Kansas, said Tuesday that the complaint filed by the government watchdog group The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, or CREW, was rooted in “a national effort to exclude matters of faith by public servants.”

The group said it asked the House and Senate ethics committees to look into whether the rent Moran and at least eight other members of Congress paid to live at the home was below market value. If it was, the group says, the discount could be considered an illegal gift.

The lawmakers, who include Republican Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas, reportedly paid $950 to live in the home near the Capitol, which is owned by C Street Center Inc. and is affiliated with a Christian prayer group known as The Fellowship.

Moran, a Republican, said he began attending Bible study sessions at the home when he was first elected to Congress in 1996.

“I don’t think that my interest in studying the Bible with other colleagues of mine in Congress ought to be seen as anything but good or at least personal whether you think it’s good or bad it ought to be a decision I make as a member of Congress, as a human being,” he said.

Melanine Sloan, executive director of CREW, said the complaint is “not at all about religion.”

“It’s about fair market value of rent,” Sloan said. “That’s the issue. It’s a violation of the gift rule.”

Moran said rent at the home is based on sparse accommodations. He said he sleeps in a small bedroom on a bed he bought himself and that he shares a bathroom with other tenants.

Sloan said the house is valued at $1.8 million and is in a “fabulous location.” She said hefty rents would be needed to pay the mortgage.

“Spartan seems unlikely,” she said.

Brian Hart, a spokesman for Brownback, said last week that the senator lived at the home for less than a year before buying a condominium in 2003.

Also last week, a group called Clergy VOICE asked the IRS to investigate the tax implications of accepting lodging at the C Street house.

Comments

zzgoeb 5 years, 2 months ago

Fascinating....this has nothing to do with religious freedom, it has to do with subsidized housing and a conflict of interest Jerry! Several news outlets report that the house includes meals service, laundry and many more amenities in the ridiculously low price. Just admit you made a mistake, pay the taxes on the "gift" and don't do it again you greedhead...

RonBurgandy 5 years, 2 months ago

It has absolutely nothing to do with public servants and their faith. It's about exactly what it says, receiving improper benefits. Sheesh.

DrRustinMcGillicuddy 5 years, 2 months ago

Hm, I think that if they have a problem with it, maybe they should buy, renovate, upkeep, and manage their own townhouses in Washington D. C. to either compete with or offer an alternative living situation with comparable prices that is universally recognized as both bipartisan and religiously devoid, to try and make everyone happy. Maybe they could schedule meet-and-greets every week, with cook outs and maybe a volleyball court or two, just to keep everyone's spirits high. Actually, why not throw in a basketball court too, maybe the pres. will take notice and come and kick it with some of the regulars and just be a "normal guy" like everyone else, who doesn't have any interests whatsoever outside of his job. What gall someone must have to think that the religious beliefs of their tenants or themselves would not be scrutinized in every facet of every decision in their lives. Let me know when all Christian townhouses and all Christian landlords begin receiving tax breaks, or when Moran himself lobbies for the specific and clear exemptions of all Christian landowners, business owners, politicians, and servants, and then I think you may have a case against someone who is "pulling some strings" for his team.

geekyhost 5 years, 2 months ago

Or maybe politicians should just stop breaking the law by taking illegal gifts. The argument about whether or not the Fellowship got a return on their illegal investment is a separate discussion.

Jimo 5 years, 2 months ago

Playing the old "faith card"! ROFL

"Sparse accommodations"? What part of luxury overlaps sparse? This is the equivalent of living in the Chancellor's residence on the KU campus and paying rent of $200 a month.

"Who cares"? It's called bribery and tax fraud, sir. In an era when legislative dealmaking is casually branded as corruption, here we have old-fashioned graft. What we don't know is (a) exactly how much Moran (and Brownback) were bribed, (b) exactly who the identity is of their briber(s), and most importantly (c) what did Moran deliver as the bribee?

(I suppose also, when will the U.S. Attorney indict for tax fraud?)

Will the Tea Party stand up to Moran? Or are they really all hot air?

Clinton Laing 5 years, 2 months ago

You liberal clowns are showing us nothing but ignorance: what IS the going rate for a box-spring+mattress (which you buy yourself) in an otherwise empty bedroom, sharing a bathroom with others, in Washington D.C.? Anyone? Anyone?

I wait someone with real-estate cred to enlighten the crowd, but for now, put a sock in it, y'all: you know not of which ye speak.

Tom McCune 5 years, 2 months ago

How anyone of any faith or philosophy can vote for these guys completely escapes me.

imastinker 5 years, 2 months ago

I also want to know what they are paying and what the "going rate" is for those accomodations.

I'd like to hear whether the prayer group is advocating for something or if they are just a prayer group here. I have rented for below average prices before. I assume about half the people that rent do so for below average prices.

somedude20 5 years, 2 months ago

c9lewis (anonymous) says… "You liberal clowns are showing us nothing but ignorance: what IS the going rate for a box-spring+mattress (which you buy yourself) in an otherwise empty bedroom, sharing a bathroom with others, in Washington D.C"

how do you know that it was just a room with a bed C9, were you sleeping in the house, room, or in said bed?

Yoda51 5 years, 2 months ago

If you want to be informed about Rep. Moran and Sen. Sam Brownback and others like them, read "The Family - The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power" by Jeff Sharlet. It is a fascinating investigation of religious fundamentalism in the heart of our government; and not just federal, but state and local as well. If even half of what Sharlet has written is true, those who still value their freedom from the theocratic minority should be angry, alert and active in combating the take over of this nation by fundamentalist zealots.

Jimo 5 years, 2 months ago

"I wait someone with real-estate cred to enlighten the crowd"

Similar properties rent for $4-5k per month. Purchase value of a townhouse next to the capital building - can run well in excess of 500 dollars per square foot. For tax purposes, the building was valued at $321 psf. That doesn't include the value of the luxury nature of the accomodation - maid service, furnishings (sorry, the image of Moran lugging a twin mattress up the steps to his room is laugh out load hilarious!!!), meals, etc.

What's even more outrageous is that the owners deducted their bribes for many years under the guise of the building being a "church"!

DeMontfort 5 years, 2 months ago

Thanks, Yoda. You beat me to the post re: "The Family". From the comments so far it doesn't appear that anyone on the local level has made the connection. I was sorry to see that Moran got sucked in.

Stuart Evans 5 years, 2 months ago

I agree Paul. Either our elected leaders are blind and have no ability to use reason & logic (possibly true), or most are lying about their beliefs in order to appear common (most likely true). Good call Yoda. I'll be picking that book up asap.

LogicMan 5 years, 2 months ago

$950 per month, I presume.

Here that would get a very nice, large, furnished apartment!

There, for a bedroom and shared bathroom sound reasonable.

imastinker 5 years, 2 months ago

Here's an interesting article. It says the comparable room rate was compared to hotel rates.

http://cjonline.com/news/state/2010-04-01/moran_added_to_ethics_complaint

geekyhost 5 years, 2 months ago

Since they provided housekeeping and meal service, it's an appropriate comparison. They said comparable efficiency apartments went for 1700 a month, no housekeeping.

feeble 5 years, 2 months ago

from the cjoline article:

"Thursday's filing comes on the heels of similar objections to the housing arrangements. On Monday, Clergy VOICE, an Ohio-based group of various Christian denominations, sent to the Internal Revenue Service a letter saying to obtain a hotel room providing furnished quarters and housekeeping — comparable to a room in the C Street house — would cost between $146 and $259 per night, or between $4,400 and $7,500 per month.

Clergy VOICE said its survey showed no hotel room anywhere in the nation's capital is priced under $80 a night, or $2,400 a month. Moreover, the letter to the IRS said, none of these options offered the proximity to congressional offices and the privacy of the C Street facility.

Under Senate ethics rules, members can't accept gifts, which includes housing accommodations.

"This means C Street Center Inc. effectively is subsidizing senators' housing, a clear violation of the gifts rule," the complaint states."

true_patriot 5 years, 2 months ago

Nod, The Family are not your normal everyday churchgoers. They also produced a protege in Africa that attempted to pass legislation making it a crime punishable by death to be found to be homosexual. Even more Taliban-like was a provision making it a crime punishable by death if friends or family of a homosexual person did not report that person as such to authorities. These guys are way too close to the nexus of power in America and it is shameful that Kansans have to be involved in this kind of extremism.

ChrisNyberg 5 years, 2 months ago

Very few politicians care about laws. And that starts with President Obama!!!

zzgoeb 5 years, 2 months ago

Defender

Yeah, it's practically a "monks quarters" at the monastery!!! Here's the facts; "the Capitol Hill rental market and discovered that nearby hotels charge a minimum of $2,400 per month, corporate housing costs a minimum of $4,000 per month and efficiency or one bedroom apartments typically go for at least $1,700 per month. None of these rates include any meals." http://www.citizensforethics.org/node/44583

Don't take it personally...Jerry is religious hypocrite and you should realize it. Throw him out at the next election like a lot of Kansans plan to do.

zzgoeb 5 years, 2 months ago

Oops...I was referring to c9lewis! My apologies to defender...

jimmyjms 5 years, 2 months ago

"what IS the going rate for a box-spring+mattress (which you buy yourself) in an otherwise empty bedroom, sharing a bathroom with others, in Washington D.C.? "

So, you have your answer. Care to get back on and eat some crow?

sk_in_ks 5 years, 2 months ago

I know someone renting a room in a shared house in the D.C. area -- no meals, no housekeeping, and nowhere near the desirable C street location. He's paying as much for his room there as the mortgage on his 4+ BR house in Kansas. About $1200 a month, I think.

Liberty275 5 years, 2 months ago

It would be nice to know the size of the condo, the going rate for a similar condo in that complex and the details of how the rent was to be split by by roomates.

Liberty275 5 years, 2 months ago

"About $1200 a month, I think."

Given inflation and an influx of additional residents (driving demand) from 1996, it looks like $950/month was't outside the realm of normal.

Yoda51 5 years, 2 months ago

Whether Moran, Brownback, et.al. are receiving a deep discount in their living expenses by staying at the C Street house is, IMO, small potatoes compared to the under-the-radar practices of The Family or The Fellowship, however they choose to characterize themselves, which these guys support in their beliefs and by their legislative conduct. Again, be informed. One way is to read Jeff Sharlett's book, "The Family-The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power". Or at least read a summary of the book. Part of their plan is to keep their religious zealotry a secret while passing as just decent, prayerful guys who also just happen to believe that God is a big business capitalist who works directly thru the free market. That the rich and powerful hold those positions, whether in gov't or business, because they are God's elect. That they hold power because God has put them in power. And that nothing they do wrong ought to keep them out of this position because they are, after all, doing the Lord's work. That kind of thinking is just plain scary and pretty dang terrifying to me if you believe it's correct.

whats_going_on 5 years, 2 months ago

Corruption, secrecy, and bribery in DC?????!!?????

no.........freaking.........................................way.

TopJayhawk 5 years, 2 months ago

Being conservative I too am distressed by this. This is just the kind of special privledges that get winked at today.
Congress on both sides of the isle are enough to make you lose your breakfast. These clowns, like Charlie Rangel and others on the left side of the aisle. Both sides are corrupt and see us as idiots. I really think we need to excersise our Constitutional rights, and vote all of them out, regardless of party. We worry about the balance of power, and think if the idiot is in our party we have to vote for them to maintain "our-your" hegemony. So on and on it goes. If ALL of the incumbants get voted out. I think it will put such a scare in the newbies, that maybe the two sides will start working together again like they used to.

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