Busted: Paul Ryan Left $1-5 Million Trust Off Disclosure Forms Until He Was Vetted

Last updated on February 8th, 2013 at 01:56 am

What is it with the Romney/Ryan ticket? The murky money of Romney/Ryan is becoming the defining narrative about the Republican ticket.

Paul Ryan and his wife inherited between $1-5 million in 2010 and whoopsie daisy, he forgot to disclose it for two years. You’d almost think it was on purpose, well, some people do think that, since Ryan didn’t remember it until he was being vetted by the Romney campaign.

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Hey, at least Paul Ryan provided some tax returns when he interviewed for the VP slot. That’s more than some people will do. But it doesn’t look so great that Mr. Ryan forgot to disclose an income producing trust worth between 1-5 million dollars.

As he was being vetted, Mr. Ryan pulled a Romney and retroactively amended his disclosures on June 6, 2012 in order to include one of the couple’s largest assets — the $1-5 million income producing trust Janna Ryan inherited from her mother.

The omission was classified as an “inadvertent omission.” The average American probably couldn’t justify forgetting about a trust earning, according to USA Today, “between $15,001 and $50,000 in 2010, and between $100,001 and $1 million last year.”

USA Today gathered reactions to Ryan’s failure to disclose:

Craig Holman, a government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen, a consumer advocacy group, said “the amount and timing of this new disclosure suggests that Ryan had not sought to be fully transparent about his income and investments until he felt compelled to do so.”
But Rob Walker, former chief counsel and staff director for both the Senate and House ethics committees, said the omission was not a serious matter. “It certainly doesn’t appear on the face of anything that’s been filed, including the forms and the letters, that this was anything other than inadvertent,” Walker said, noting that many members of Congress file amendments to their annual financial disclosure filings.

But it gets worse. Yesterday we had Mrs. Romney telling Americans that she didn’t know what was in her blind trust, which is hard to believe since it’s managed by their friend and family attorney who invested ten million dollars from the blind trust in a fund managed by their son. It was Mitt Romney who warned us all that “the blind trust is the age-old ruse” back in 1994, when he was running against Ted Kennedy. Romney was against blind trusts before he was for them.

Today we find out that Paul Ryan checked yes under “Qualifying Blind Trust” and “excepted trusts” on his disclosure form, but when he amended the forms to include the $1-5 million dollar trust, he amended that yes to a “no”. No, it’s not an excepted trust. No, it’s not a blind trust.

So, it appears that Mr. Ryan tried to pass the now disclosed trust off as a blind or excepted trust. I’m unclear as to how that mistake is “inadvertent”.

If you’re thinking this is an odd mistake for someone being sold as a budget/deficit hawk, you can comfort yourself by remembering that Mr. Ryan admitted in a Tuesday interview with Fox News’ Brit Hume that he has yet to crunch the numbers of his infamous budget, and so can’t tell us if indeed it balances anything.

Ryan said, “I don’t know exactly when it balances, because we have — I don’t want to get wonky on you, but we haven’t run the numbers on that specific plan.” Then Ryan tried to take refuge that he’s off the Ryan budget and he’s here to talk about the Romney/Ryan budget, but it turns out that he hasn’t run the numbers on that plan either. But he does have lots of bad things to say about Obama’s plan. He claims Obama’s budget is very, very bad, but even Brit Hume said, “Wait a minute, he (Obama) proposed a full blown budget.”

Perhaps Mr. Ryan is more of an ideas guy — after all, he’s admitted that his monetary policy is inspired by the speeches of a fictional character in a novel written by Ayn Rand, our Lady of the Juvenile Fantasies of the Teenager.

It might be that alleged small government “wonk” Mr. Ryan was too busy trying to force a speculum up American women, and got distracted. If you look at his voting record, this makes sense. But what of his wife, Janna Ryan, tax attorney and lobbyist (aren’t all Republicans lobbyists?) for Pricewaterhouse Coopers and then for Williams & Jensen? Surely Mrs. Ryan knows what disclose means, and what qualifies as a blind trust and an excepted trust and what does not.

The House Ethics folks aren’t worried about Mr. Ryan’s slip, but then we have to remember that the Republicans appeared to want to kill the Office of Congressional Ethics when they took over in 2010. Ethics are for Democrats. Both parties violate ethics rules, but only one party seeks to hold the offenders accountable. Remember the Republican outrage over Tom Daschle’s $140,000 in taxes owed for a car and driver provided by a donor? That inadvertent admission rendered Tom Daschle unfit for a cabinet position.

So once again, we have the Romney/Ryan ticket advocating that the American people require less of a Presidential ticket than they do of a cabinet position, as Romney could not be confirmed for a cabinet position without releasing more tax returns.

The House senior ethics adviser has advised Mr. Ryan that he needn’t disclose the “underlying assets” of the trust. This is the same ethics committee that cleared Florida Republican Vern Buchanan from “purposefully” omitting information in his 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010 disclosures.

There, don’t you feel better now? When you go to interview for that job where they subject you to a drug test, a background check and ask for your Facebook password, just remember, full disclosure is for the Little People.

Mr. Ryan gets a lollipop for returning Obama’s compliment of him as a “good family man”. It’s refreshing to see that even if Mr. Ryan mirrors Mitt Romney’s transparency failures, he is not going to attack the President as a bad person. Yet, Paul Ryan is supposed to be the Republicans’ numbers guy. How does the numbers guy forget a trust that produced between 100,000 and a million dollars in income last year?

Additional Sources: Paul Ryan Open Secrets , President Obama’s 2013 budget proposal

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