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Disclosure forms reveal spectrum of lawmakers' assets

Not all in House independently deep-pocketed

WASHINGTON -- Richard Pombo still counts himself as a fourth-generation cattle rancher, though he's the chairman of the House Resources Committee. And Allan Mollohan can add property manager to his other job title of top Democrat on the House Ethics Committee.

While their Senate counterparts enjoy the luxury of six years in office, members of the House operate on two-year terms, and several have fallback jobs or assured outside income in case voters turn them out.

Financial disclosure forms released yesterday described the deep-pocketed, the politicians existing on salary alone, and the well-traveled.

The forms also capture House majority leader Tom DeLay's financial fight against various ethical allegations.

The Texas Republican accepted $439,300 in contributions to his legal expense fund in 2004, a year in which the House Ethics panel investigated DeLay and rebuked him for his conduct. Separately, he faces questions about his ties to Jack Abramoff, a lobbyist under federal criminal investigation.

DeLay still owes three law firms between $125,003 and $315,000 combined for his legal expenses.

The top Republican in the House, Speaker Dennis Hastert, supplemented his salary of $203,000 with rent from a Washington townhouse and a $31,002 pension from the state of Illinois, based on his years as a high school teacher. Hastert also purchased a one-quarter share in 69 acres of property in Plano, Ill.

Disclosure forms filed by members of the Massachusetts delegation show that two members -- Representative John W. Olver, Democrat of Amherst, and Representative William D. Delahunt, Democrat of Quincy -- continue to receive state pensions earned from their years in state government. Delahunt, who was Norfolk district attorney before being elected to Congress, reported receiving $55,356 from his state pension. Olver did not specify the amount he earned.

Representative Barney Frank, Democrat of Newton, was the biggest traveler among the 10-member delegation. Last year, he took privately funded trips to Switzerland -- for the World Economic Forum -- and for speeches in New York, Los Angeles, Delaware, North Carolina, Philadelphia, and Chicago.

The cowboy boot-wearing Pombo remains active in his family farm, located in California's Central Valley, producing dairy and beef cattle. The Republican, now in his seventh term, valued ranch partnerships at $100,000-$250,000 and ranch estates at $250,000-$500,000. Last year, in addition to his base House salary of $158,100, he had unearned income of $6,000-$17,500 from the ranch partnerships.

Pombo's committee oversees the status of federal lands and environmental quality.

Mollohan and his wife, Barbara, own a property management firm. Last year, the couple purchased five lots in Bald Head Island, N.C., in addition to investment properties in the area and in Canaan Valley, W.Va.

The West Virginia Democrat reported receiving $50,001-$100,000 in income from partial ownership of Remington Inc., a property ownership and management company.

Mollohan isn't the only lawmaker involved in real estate.

Representative Juanita Millender-McDonald, the top Democrat on the House Administration Committee, owns rental property in Gardena and Compton, Calif., that produced income of $15,001-$50,000 on each.

While millionaires populate the Senate, the House has plenty of lawmakers who reported that their salary was their major source of income.

Representative David Obey of Wisconsin, the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, has been in office since 1969, when a special election was held after President Nixon tapped Melvin Laird to be his defense secretary.

Obey listed as assets two IRAs, valued between $16,000 and $65,000, and no outside source of income.

On the other end of the financial spectrum is Representative Jane Harman of California, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.

She listed a 25-year trust valued at $15 million to more than $60 million that provided more than $1 million last year. A smaller trust produced $50,000-$100,000 in unearned income.

Harman is married to Sidney Harman, founder of Harman International Industries -- known for its high-end stereo equipment including JBL, Infinity and Harman Kardon. Last year, Sidney Harman received more than $50 million in unearned income.

The top Democrat in the House, Representative Nancy Pelosi, counts among her assets a vineyard in St. Helena, Calif., valued at $5 million-$25 million as well as property in Norden and Napa, Calif., and San Francisco.

Pelosi holds the assets jointly with her husband, Paul, who also has invested in high-tech companies.

Globe staff reporter Rick Klein contributed to this report.

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