Rep. Alan Mollohan claims he got rich because he’s a savvy investor not because he’s a crook.
The West Virginia Democrat, facing questions about his real-estate investments released, a sheaf of documents on Tuesday to back up his argument that he has grown wealthy through smart investing, not cronyism.
Mollohan is one of several Democrats facing scrutiny about his ethics at a time when party leaders hope to ride public disgust with Republican corruption scandals to victory in November’s congressional elections.
Mollohan’s wealth has grown sharply over the past ten years, thanks in part to real-estate investments made with people who benefit from the federal dollars he brings home to his poor, mountainous district.
Mollohan, who has stepped down as the top Democrat on the House ethics committee, said he and his wife used aggressive investing tactics over the past 10 years to parlay a $25,000 stake in a Washington apartment building into West Virginia farmland and North Carolina beachfront valued at $6.6 million.
“We received a sizable inheritance, took on considerable financial risks, and had the good fortune to be investing in a rising real estate market. It is those factors that are responsible for the increase of our assets,” he said.
Some of the properties were purchased jointly with people who have professional relationships with Mollohan — a former staffer who oversees federal spending in his district and a man who has sold equipment to the U.S. space program thanks to Mollohan’s help, according to the Washington Post.
Those investments were made on a 50/50 basis, according to a summary provided by Mollohan.
He also said a conservative watchdog group that focused attention on his finances was motivated by partisan politics.
An official from that group, the National Legal and Policy Center, was not immediately available for comment.