Akin revises financial disclosure form to include state pension payments

Kansas City StarOctober 5, 2012 

Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin on Thursday faced new questions about why he repeatedly failed to disclose federal financial reports of state pension income that now totals nearly $130,000.

Just this week Akin updated a decade’s worth of federal reports filed with the House Ethics Commission showing the pension income he received from his 12 years as a Missouri lawmaker. Last year, Akin received $15,138. Since 2002 he has received a total of $129,109 in state pension funds, records show.

In a letter Tuesday to U.S. Rep. Jo Bonner, chairman of the House Ethics Committee, Akin wrote that it had come to his attention that “I have inadvertently filed my Financial Disclosure Reports … without including a pension from the state of Missouri. … This was an unintentional oversight, and I regret any inconvenience this may cause.”

In the one-page letter, Akin listed state pension amounts ranging from $4,405 in 2002 to $15,138 last year.

A spokesman for Akin said he wasn’t sure how Akin discovered the mistake. Akin served in the Missouri House from 1989 to 2001 before winning a seat in the U.S. House in 2000.

“I do know this: He recognized the oversight and filed the amendment on Oct. 2 to correct the record and reflect the state pension,” said spokesman Steve Taylor. “It’s not uncommon for legislators to file amendments. Obviously, Congressman Akin takes seriously transparency and has filed the appropriate amendments.”

Taylor called the amendment “a rather perfunctory thing.”

A spokesman for the House Ethics Committee would not comment on the case. U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, Akin’s Democratic opponent in November, also declined to comment.

The Ethics Committee has said “less substantial” errors and omissions are common, with as many as 50 percent of all financial disclosure statements containing errors.

In almost all of those cases, the filers appeared to be unaware of the errors until they were told of the mistakes by members of the media or other groups, the committee said. Generally, “unless there is some evidence that errors or omissions are knowing or willful,” the committee notifies the member and requires that an amendment be filed.

Once that’s done, the committee typically takes no other action. But any member who “knowingly or willfully” falsifies a statement is subject to a year in prison and a $50,000 fine.

The amendments marked the second time that Akin has amended a decade’s worth of personal financial disclosure reports. In July 2011, Akin amended his reports from 2001 to 2010 to show his stake in properties owned by family partnerships in the St. Louis and Cape Cod, Mass., areas.

A spokesman said at the time that Akin did not originally think the items needed disclosure because he had no controlling interest and received no money from the properties. But he later listed them based on an advisory opinion from the Ethics Committee.

Akin included those properties on the annual report he filed this May, valuing his share of the Massachusetts property between $250,001 and $500,000 and his share of the two St. Louis area properties between $15,001 and $50,000 each. The financial reporting forms categorize assets by dollar value ranges instead of requiring a precise figure.

The pension disclosure is yet another issue that Akin has been forced to confront as the Nov. 6 election approaches. On Wednesday, comments that Akin made four years ago on the House floor surfaced in which he compared abortion providers to terrorists. In the speech, he said it is a “common practice” for providers to give “abortions to women who are not actually pregnant.”

In August, his comments about “legitimate” rape became a national news story and caused leading Republicans, including presidential nominee Mitt Romney, to call for Akin to withdraw from the Senate race. Akin has apologized for those remarks, and many of those GOP leaders have since reversed course and now support Akin.

Akin is not the only member of Missouri’s congressional delegation to receive a state pension.

McCaskill, a former state auditor and state House member, reported a state pension payment last year of $40,031. Sen. Roy Blunt, a Republican and a former Missouri secretary of state, reported $36,721 in payments.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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