Plain Dealer Bureau
Washington - In the months before U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Cleveland declared his presidential candidacy, he ramped up the number of trips he took at the expense of out side groups, according to finan cial disclosure reports released yesterday by the House.
Kucinich, who officially joined the Democratic presiden tial race in February, went on 14 trips in 2002 compared with six in 2001. From Our Advertiser
Last year, Kucinich traveled to Sweden at the expense of Par liamentarians for Global Action. The Praxis Peace Institute paid for him to visit Croatia. Ameri cans for Democratic Action paid for Kucinich to visit Los An geles, and the United Steel workers of America and the Na tional Nutritional Foods Association paid for separate trips to Las Vegas.
Kucinich spokesman Doug Gordon said his boss traveled more last year because he was deluged with speaking requests after his popular February 2002 anti-war "Prayer for America" speech in Los Angeles. Gordon said that when Kucinich began to consider running for presi dent and his trips became more political, his campaign commit tee began to foot the travel bills. The last trip listed on Kucinich's report was in August.
Kucinich's report also shows he donated $3,000 he received in speaking fees to the Nizhoni School for Global Consciousness in New Mexico. Gordon said it is a charity that teaches nonvio lence and peace.
Kucinich last year repaid a personal debt of between $15,000 and $50,000 to Cleve land developer James Carney, but still owes a similar amount to another friend, actress Shir ley MacLaine, the disclosure statement shows. It indicates Kucinich's net worth is less than $32,000. His main assets are bank and retirement accounts.
Although some Ohio mem bers of Congress, such as Re publicans Paul Gillmor of Old Fort, Rob Portman of Cincin nati, David Hobson of Spring field, and John Boehner of West Chester all filed disclosure statements that show more than $1 million in assets, those who represent Northeast Ohio are considerably less wealthy.
Lawmakers are not required to disclose the value of their homes. Most members draw a House salary of $150,000, though a few in leadership posi tions make more. Navarre Re publican Rep. Ralph Regula has the most assets, with property worth more than $565,000. He has more than $250,000 in stocks and savings at United Bank, as well 200 acres in Stark County and a partnership in his family's farm equipment busi ness, both worth more than $100,000. He took trips to Mi ami, Phoenix, Jacksonville, Fla., and New York.
Toledo Democrat Marcy Kap tur was a distant second, with more than $219,000 in assets, including a rental property in Toledo, savings bonds and mu tual funds. The report shows she took three trips: to Russia, Cuba and the New York Stock Exchange.
Lorain Democrat Sherrod Brown indicated his assets, which include bank and retire ment accounts, mutual funds and a farm, are worth more than $72,000. He took eight free trips to places including Taipei, Shanghai, London, Mos cow and Mexico City.
Madison Republican Steve LaTourette's report showed he has more than $15,000 in a sav ings account, and his wife made $26,000 working for the city of Willoughby last year. LaTou rette did not report any trips.
Niles Democrat Timothy Ryan's report detailed that he made $57,400 last year as an Ohio state senator. The only as set he listed is a retirement ac count valued between $1,000 and $15,000. He owes the Sec ond National Bank of Ohio be tween $15,000 and $50,000, the report said.
Cleveland Democratic Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones ob tained an extension to file her report late. Her acting commu nications director, Nicole Wil liams, said it would be com pleted as soon as possible.
The House financial records showed that, in general, the lawmakers are more comfort able than the average American, according to the Associated Press. For instance, the top Democrat in the House, Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, re ported owning vineyards and other properties worth between $8.8 million and $37.5 million, making her far wealthier than her Republican counterpart, Speaker Dennis Hastert of Illi nois, who listed assets of about $500,000.
The Senate released financial disclosure reports on Friday.
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