Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Santorum's funding

The American Prospect looks into Rick Santorum's finances and comes up with some pretty shady deals that have favored the person in charge of re-writing Senate ethics rules.
What we found is that Santorum’s exurban lifestyle is financed in ways that aren’t available to the average voter back home in Pennsylvania -- namely a political action committee that lists payments for such unorthodox items as dozens of trips to the Starbucks in Leesburg, a number of stops at fast-food joints, and purchases at Target, Wal-Mart, and a Giant supermarket in northern Virginia. Although a Santorum aide defends those charges as legitimate political costs, good-government experts say the expenditures are at best unconventional, and at worst a possible violation of Senate rules, and the purchases appear to be unorthodox when compared with other senators’ filings.
He also, apparently, got favorable treatment for a mortgage refinance from an institution that Santorum wouldn't normally qualify for a loan from. That institution is a contributor to his campaign, his PAC, and one of it's members sits on a charity board with Santorum.

Rick and Karen Santorum do not appear to fit the profile of customers to whom the financial institution would normally issue a loan of any kind. According to information currently posted on Philadelphia Trust’s Web site, banking services “are offered at no additional charge to our clients” and “are available only to investment advisory clients whose portfolios we manage, oversee or administer. Interest rates on loans and deposits are competitive. Loan payments will be customized to match each client’s specific needs. Approved loans will be collateralized by your investment portfolio.”

Santorum’s financial disclosure forms filed with the clerk of the Senate show that he has never maintained an investment portfolio with Philadelphia Trust. For that matter, the senator would hardly fit the profile of the “affluent investor” that the Philadelphia bank seeks -- namely, people with investment assets of at least $250,000. On his 2002 disclosure form, Santorum listed liquid assets, primarily retirement accounts and life insurance, in a range no greater than $140,000.

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