Elections

GOP lawyer says Justin Fareed doesn’t need to disclose ranch work, oil ties

Washington, D.C., ethics watchdogs say congressional candidate Justin Fareed, pictured during a February 2016 debate, left out required information about his family’s ranching business on his financial disclosure forms. His attorney Charles Bell disagrees.
Washington, D.C., ethics watchdogs say congressional candidate Justin Fareed, pictured during a February 2016 debate, left out required information about his family’s ranching business on his financial disclosure forms. His attorney Charles Bell disagrees. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

An attorney for the Republican Party disputes a Tribune article questioning congressional candidate Justin Fareed’s federal financial disclosures.

On Friday, The Tribune published an article in which experts from three Washington D.C.-based government ethics organizations said it appeared Fareed left out his position with his family’s ranch on federal financial disclosure forms, with one watchdog saying the omissions obscure the candidate’s family ties to the oil industry.

In an interview Wednesday, Fareed — who calls himself a “third-generation rancher” and says he “oversees the business side of the operation” — said he didn’t believe he needed to report the position but added that he would confer with his attorneys.

On Friday evening, Charles Bell, vice chairman of the California Republican Lawyers Association, said Fareed didn’t need to disclose the position because it’s informal and the candidate isn’t paid for it.

“Fareed is required to disclose formal positions with business entities and income from them,” Bell wrote in an email. “Justin made clear he held no ownership or officer position within his family’s cattle business and received no income from it.”

Bell identified Fareed’s ranching activities as “helping with the buying and selling of cattle, monitoring a dry farming operation and working the land with his family.”

However, according to the most recent U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Ethics Instruction Guide for financial disclosures, all House members and candidates must report on their disclosure “any nonfederal positions (whether or not compensated) you held with organizations,” including limited liability corporations. Those include positions such as employee, representative, or consultant.

Fareed’s family ranch business is PFK Kern Properties LLC.

The Jan. 19 article included the opinions of representatives from four nonprofit government watchdog groups. Bell claimed in his email that the experts were “neither nonpartisans nor correct,” even though three of the four nonprofits are listed as nonpartisan.

Lastly, one quoted expert said he suspected that Fareed’s omission of the ranching position on his forms was deliberate — if PRK Kern Properties was listed on his disclosure, an online search of the LLC would reveal that Fareed’s family is in business with the family of Howard Keck Jr., the heir to a California oil fortune. Members of the Keck family are also listed as having worked for PFK Kern Properties.

Bell called the article’s mention of Keck “more pathetic than just plain wrong.”

“This is the worst kind of political smear — a guilt by association insinuation about oil and gas and energy,” Bell wrote.

On Saturday, Fareed’s campaign manager, Austin Stukins, tweeted a photograph of Fareed at a ranch.

“SPOTTED TODAY! @JustinFareed with #ranchers doing ranch things on a ranch,” Stukins wrote.

Staff Writer Matt Fountain 781-7909, @mattfountain1

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