Kavanaugh contradicts White House account of credit-card debt, raising more questions

Kavanaugh contradicts White House account of credit-card debt, raising more questions,

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. (Photo: Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

Questions have lingered since shortly after Kavanaugh’s nomination was announced in July and reporters digging into his public record found that Kavanaugh’s financial disclosure forms showed tens of thousands of dollars of fluctuating credit card balances as well as a loan against his retirement account for the 12 years before 2017. All of these debts disappeared from Kavanaugh’s financial disclosures in 2017 and the forms did not indicate an obvious source of funds to repay them, prompting speculation about potential conflicts of interest. ‘ data-reactid=”23″>Questions have lingered since shortly after Kavanaugh’s nomination was announced in July and reporters digging into his public record found that Kavanaugh’s financial disclosure forms showed tens of thousands of dollars of fluctuating credit card balances as well as a loan against his retirement account for the 12 years before 2017. All of these debts disappeared from Kavanaugh’s financial disclosures in 2017 and the forms did not indicate an obvious source of funds to repay them, prompting speculation about potential conflicts of interest.

Before his hearings last week, Kavanaugh and the White House declined to answer any further questions, from reporters and senators alike, about the nominee’s finances. No senators asked about Kavanaugh’s financial situation during the televised hearings, but Democrats on the Judiciary Committee submitted several detailed questions in writing afterward.‘ data-reactid=”25″>Before his hearings last week, Kavanaugh and the White House declined to answer any further questions, from reporters and senators alike, about the nominee’s finances. No senators asked about Kavanaugh’s financial situation during the televised hearings, but Democrats on the Judiciary Committee submitted several detailed questions in writing afterward.

Kavanaugh says he signed up for 12 years of Nationals season tickets when the team moved to Washington, D.C., in 2005. “I am a huge sports fan,” Kavanaugh explains. He split up those tickets with “old friends” (whom he still declines to name) through a ticket draft held at his house. However, Kavanaugh wrote, “Everyone in the group paid me for their tickets based on the cost of the tickets, to the dollar. No one overpaid or underpaid me for tickets. No loans were given in either direction.”‘ data-reactid=”27″>Kavanaugh says he signed up for 12 years of Nationals season tickets when the team moved to Washington, D.C., in 2005. “I am a huge sports fan,” Kavanaugh explains. He split up those tickets with “old friends” (whom he still declines to name) through a ticket draft held at his house. However, Kavanaugh wrote, “Everyone in the group paid me for their tickets based on the cost of the tickets, to the dollar. No one overpaid or underpaid me for tickets. No loans were given in either direction.”

White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah. (Photo: Carolyn Kaster/AP)

The new account revives questions about Kavanaugh’s overall financial situation, and suggestions that he lived beyond what he could afford on his relatively modest income as a federal circuit court judge. The version told by the White House in July had addressed that question, but had the drawback that it struck many observers as unlikely. “It’s strange to imagine that a man of comparatively modest means would put tens of thousands of dollars on credit cards to buy baseball tickets,” The Atlantic’s David Graham wrote at the time. Many also noted that Nationals’ season tickets simply aren’t expensive enough to explain such significant debt. And the friends who supposedly were part of this arrangement have never been identified or come forward.‘ data-reactid=”40″>The new account revives questions about Kavanaugh’s overall financial situation, and suggestions that he lived beyond what he could afford on his relatively modest income as a federal circuit court judge. The version told by the White House in July had addressed that question, but had the drawback that it struck many observers as unlikely. “It’s strange to imagine that a man of comparatively modest means would put tens of thousands of dollars on credit cards to buy baseball tickets,” The Atlantic’s David Graham wrote at the time. Many also noted that Nationals’ season tickets simply aren’t expensive enough to explain such significant debt. And the friends who supposedly were part of this arrangement have never been identified or come forward.

For all its plausibility, Kavanaugh’s explanation renews some of the serious concerns that Shah’s initial account obscured. A federal judge and his wife were saddled with a credit card burden that, in fact, they did carry year over year–a financial anchor from which they couldn’t seem to free themselves for nearly a dozen years. Anyone with the experience of carrying a significant credit card balance knows the pressure that revolving interest at high rates puts on a family. How much interest did they ultimately have to pay? How did the Kavanaughs manage to stay afloat during twelve lean years? What deals and compromises, if any, did they make to do so? ‘ data-reactid=”44″>For all its plausibility, Kavanaugh’s explanation renews some of the serious concerns that Shah’s initial account obscured. A federal judge and his wife were saddled with a credit card burden that, in fact, they did carry year over year–a financial anchor from which they couldn’t seem to free themselves for nearly a dozen years. Anyone with the experience of carrying a significant credit card balance knows the pressure that revolving interest at high rates puts on a family. How much interest did they ultimately have to pay? How did the Kavanaughs manage to stay afloat during twelve lean years? What deals and compromises, if any, did they make to do so?

Examined closely, the new story still does not provide a certain answer for how Kavanaugh repaid his credit credit cards; it contains an unexplained three year gap. ‘ data-reactid=”53″>Examined closely, the new story still does not provide a certain answer for how Kavanaugh repaid his credit credit cards; it contains an unexplained three year gap.

However, Kavanaugh’s credit card debt problem is not solved in 2014. In fact, after declining somewhat from 2013 to 2014, Kavanaugh’s credit card balances increased dramatically during both 2015 and 2016, reaching levels in 2016 higher than they had been for a decade. The credit card balances finally vanish in 2017. The infusion of funds in 2014 also had no discernible effect on the balance of the loan Kavanaugh had taken against his Thrift Savings Plan which does not appear to decline until three years later, in 2017. Kavanaugh’s written answers suggest this loan was repaid with regular deductions from his paycheck, rather than all at once.) The reported balance in Kavanaugh’s bank accounts doesn’t increase or decrease in 2014 or afterward, even though Kavanaugh should have been depositing bigger paychecks and a $150,000 lump sum payment. If for some reason Kavanaugh waited until 2017 to use his 2014 infusion of funds to pay down his credit cards, where did he deposit all that money in the interim? Neither Kavanaugh’s disclosure forms nor his written explanation contains an answer. What accounts for the continued increases in Kavanaugh credit card debt after 2014? Again, we have no certain answers.‘ data-reactid=”55″>However, Kavanaugh’s credit card debt problem is not solved in 2014. In fact, after declining somewhat from 2013 to 2014, Kavanaugh’s credit card balances increased dramatically during both 2015 and 2016, reaching levels in 2016 higher than they had been for a decade. The credit card balances finally vanish in 2017. The infusion of funds in 2014 also had no discernible effect on the balance of the loan Kavanaugh had taken against his Thrift Savings Plan which does not appear to decline until three years later, in 2017. Kavanaugh’s written answers suggest this loan was repaid with regular deductions from his paycheck, rather than all at once.) The reported balance in Kavanaugh’s bank accounts doesn’t increase or decrease in 2014 or afterward, even though Kavanaugh should have been depositing bigger paychecks and a $150,000 lump sum payment. If for some reason Kavanaugh waited until 2017 to use his 2014 infusion of funds to pay down his credit cards, where did he deposit all that money in the interim? Neither Kavanaugh’s disclosure forms nor his written explanation contains an answer. What accounts for the continued increases in Kavanaugh credit card debt after 2014? Again, we have no certain answers.

One theoretical possibility is that Kavanaugh extracted some equity from his home, through a cash-out refinancing or a second mortgage. However, Maryland real estate records reviewed by Yahoo News reveal that Kavanaugh refinanced his home twice, in 2014 and 2015, and neither refinancing increased the face amount of the mortgage; that appears to rule out a cash out refinancing. In addition, there is no record of a second mortgage or home equity line of credit on the property.‘ data-reactid=”57″>One theoretical possibility is that Kavanaugh extracted some equity from his home, through a cash-out refinancing or a second mortgage. However, Maryland real estate records reviewed by Yahoo News reveal that Kavanaugh refinanced his home twice, in 2014 and 2015, and neither refinancing increased the face amount of the mortgage; that appears to rule out a cash out refinancing. In addition, there is no record of a second mortgage or home equity line of credit on the property.

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, center, watches events on the field from the stands before the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, July 17, 2018, in Washington D.C. (Photo: Patrick Semansky/AP)

Family help could also explain how Kavanaugh raised the down payment for his $1.2 million home in 2006. In his written explanation, Kavanaugh attributes this down payment primarily to the Thrift Savings Plan loan; however, according to Kavanaugh’s disclosure forms, that loan can only have provided up to $50,000 of the approximately $220,000 in cash that would have been due. How did Kavanaugh raise the other $170,000? His bank accounts don’t show the declining balances normally associated with making a sizable down payment. The funds might have come from his family, or maybe he put it on his credit cards.‘ data-reactid=”70″>Family help could also explain how Kavanaugh raised the down payment for his $1.2 million home in 2006. In his written explanation, Kavanaugh attributes this down payment primarily to the Thrift Savings Plan loan; however, according to Kavanaugh’s disclosure forms, that loan can only have provided up to $50,000 of the approximately $220,000 in cash that would have been due. How did Kavanaugh raise the other $170,000? His bank accounts don’t show the declining balances normally associated with making a sizable down payment. The funds might have come from his family, or maybe he put it on his credit cards.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., attends a markup of the Senate Judiciary Committee in Dirksen Building on Sept. 13, 2018, where Republicans voted to move the committee vote on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh to September 20. (Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images)

Many Americans have complicated financial situations. Nevertheless, we ask federal judges and judicial nominees to disclose their affairs sufficiently to show that there are no unknown conflicts of interest that could interfere with the judge’s ability to do their job. After months of questions about Kavanaugh’s personal financial situation, it remains nearly as murky as it was the day President Trump called him forward in the East Room.‘ data-reactid=”83″>Many Americans have complicated financial situations. Nevertheless, we ask federal judges and judicial nominees to disclose their affairs sufficiently to show that there are no unknown conflicts of interest that could interfere with the judge’s ability to do their job. After months of questions about Kavanaugh’s personal financial situation, it remains nearly as murky as it was the day President Trump called him forward in the East Room.

_____



Source : Link

Related Post