- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 22, 2008

FREDERICK, Md. | Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett has underreported or failed to report roughly $1 million in property sales since 2004, according to a newspaper report.

Mr. Bartlett, Western Maryland Republican, told the Frederick News-Post that the omissions - involving at least four properties - was a result of inattentiveness and his and others’ confusion about the deals.

“Nothing sinister, not trying to hide anything,” said Mr. Bartlett, who plans to amend the reports to correct the discrepancies.

Mr. Bartlett, 82, is running for a ninth term representing the 6th District, which includes all or part of eight counties from the state’s western border to the Susquehanna River.

The News-Post reported the discrepancies Sunday after comparing Mr. Bartlett’s federally mandated personal financial-disclosure forms with state property records.

Under federal law, members of Congress must disclose details of their finances annually, including their earned and unearned income, assets, gifts and travel. Failing to file a disclosure statement carries a civil penalty of up to $11,000. Falsifying a statement can result in the fine and criminal penalties of up to five years’ imprisonment.

The News-Post reported Mr. Bartlett failed to disclose the sale of a house near Mount Pleasant for $449,000 in 2004. He bought the house for $180,000 in 2001, according to state property records.

The newspaper reported Mr. Bartlett also failed to disclose the sale of a house in Knoxville for $299,900 in 2006. He bought the building for $42,000 in 2000, according to the report.

He said the Liberty Road property was confused with an adjacent one because it had been split off from a larger parcel.

Mr. Bartlett also said the Knoxville house was one of several he owns in the area. State records and Mr. Bartlett’s financial disclosures show he owns or has owned other nearby properties over the years. One of them he reported owning for several years after state records show it was sold.

Mr. Bartlett said he was only peripherally involved in the restoration of the Knoxville house.

“I really was a bit player,” he said. “My son rebuilt the houses; my wife wrote the checks.”

Mr. Bartlett reported selling a house in Ijamsville in 2004 for $50,000 to $100,001. State property records list the sale price as $435,000.

Mr. Bartlett blamed the error on staff not reading his handwritten notes correctly. He said he signed the finished form without reading it, something he said he shouldn’t have done.

Dan Auble, financial-disclosure researcher with the watchdog group Center for Responsive Politics, said lawmakers’ financial-disclosure forms are vetted by legislative ethics committees before they are publicly released, but it’s hard for anyone to know what’s not there.

Mr. Bartlett reported overall assets of $1.8 million to $6.8 million, mostly tied up in his Buckeystown Pike home, which he reported to be worth $1 million to $5 million.

His Democratic challenger, Jennifer P. Dougherty, reported assets valued at $256,000 to $591,000, mostly in the form of her namesake restaurant in Frederick, which she reported as valued at $250,001 to $500,000.

The newspaper said its review of Miss Dougherty’s personal financial-disclosure form and state property records revealed no discrepancies.

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