Beaufort News

Report finds Rep. Wilson's total liabilities between $765,000 and $1.57 million

    WASHINGTON -- U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, whose district includes Beaufort County, reported between $165,000 and $325,000 in loans and credit-card debt on his recently released personal financial disclosure statements for 2010.

Congressional lawmakers are required to file the statements each year. The statements report assets in broad ranges and are not required to include a lawmaker's primary residence.

Wilson's statement shows he owed between $165,000 and $325,000 in six personal loans, one home-equity loan and credit card debt.

Wilson, R-West Columbia, reported total liabilities between $765,000 and $1.57 million. That includes two mortgages -- each worth between $250,000 and $500,000 -- for properties in Washington and Sapphire, N.C., and a mortgage worth between $100,000 and $250,000 for property in Springdale.

Wilson's report shows "he is almost certainly under some (financial) pressure," said Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics in Washington.

"This report raises more questions than it answers."

Lawmakers are required to disclose personal debts of at least $10,000, Krumholz said.

Wilson did not respond to requests for more details about his finances.

His spokesman, Neal Patel, issued a statement saying Wilson "has complied with the rules set forth by Congress by filing his financial disclosure form. He has continually supported increased transparency, even when it comes to his own personal finances, so constituents ... have the ability to examine his investments and obligations in the light of day."

Wilson reported assets worth between $1.2 million and $2.68 million. Most of that is real estate and a timeshare on Hilton Head Island.

The asset and liability ranges in his report show Wilson was worth $386,000 to $796,000 last year, according to Jock Friedly, founder of LegiStorm, a website that posts financial disclosure records, congressional salary data and other fiscal information.

That range does not include the value of Wilson's primary residence.

Analysts say it's unusual for members of Congress to report significant debt. Of the 535 members of the House and Senate, more than 250 are millionaires, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Wilson appears to rank "somewhere in the middle of the pack in Congress in terms of net asset levels," Friedly wrote in an email.

Lawmakers also must report any outside income, including gifts and fees from speaking engagements. Their annual salaries -- $174,000 for non-leadership members of Congress like Wilson -- are not included on the reports.

Wilson reported extra income of nearly $39,000 last year in pension payments from the South Carolina state retirement system, the National Guard and the U.S. military, according to his records.

Additionally, he earned between $5,000 and $15,000 in rent from his property in Springdale, his report shows.