Rep. Mollohan’s Foundation Got Free Rent From Earmark Recipient

WVHTC buildingRoll Call reports today:

The West Virginia High Tech Consortium has provided more than $75,000 in free rent and administrative services to the Robert H. Mollohan Family Charitable Foundation, according to tax records, while receiving millions of dollars worth of earmarks from Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-W. Va.), who serves as the family foundation’s secretary.

Questions about Mollohan’s foundation are not new. Michael Forsythe of Bloomberg News reported on June 22, 2006:

Mollohan helped funnel at least $179 million in U.S. government contracts over the last six years to companies that gave to the West Virginia Democrat’s family-run charity, tax records and other documents show.

The money went to 21 companies and nonprofit groups that contributed $564,427 to the Robert H. Mollohan Family Charitable Foundation from 2002 to 2004 — almost half of the charity’s revenue, according to the documents. The congressman, an Appropriations Committee member whose finances are under federal investigation, is the secretary of the foundation, which is named for his father.

Controversy over the Mollohan Foundation is fallout from a broader set of allegations first made by NLPC in 2006 about Mollohan’s cozy relationship with earmark recipients that apparently has made him wealthy.

Following a nine-month investigation, NLPC filed a 500-page Complaint on February 28, 2006 with the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia detailing more than 250 misrepresentations and omissions on Mollohan’s disclosure reports, prompting an extensive probe by the FBI.

The Complaint was made public in a front-page Wall Street Journal story by John Wilke on April 7, 2006 titled “Appropriations, Local Ties And Now a Probe of a Legislator,” touching off a firestorm that resulted in Mollohan’s resignation from the House Ethics Committee on April 21.

Mollohan blamed NLPC:

…I have been subjected to a concerted, politically motivated attack on my ethics that has been fomented by an ultra-conservative organization in Washington.

As did House Speaker Nancy Pelosi:

The allegations against Congressman Mollohan originate from the National Legal and Policy Center, which engages in highly partisan attacks on Democrats.

The appearance that Mollohan had personally benefitted from earmarks that he arranged was reflected in the fact that he and his wife had more than $2 million in real estate investments with a former staffer, Laura Kuhns, and her husband. Kuhns ran a nonprofit, Vandalia Heritage Foundation, which had received more than $28 million in appropriations earmarks with Mollohan’s help from 2000 through 2005. She was also on the board of other nonprofit groups that had received over $100 million in earmarks of federal funds during the same period with Mollohan’s help.

Mollohan attempted to hide a dramatic increase in wealth. Every Financial Disclosure Report filed by Mollohan from 1996 through 2004 had major errors. Most of the errors had the effect of understating the value of his holdings – sometimes the assets he did not disclose exceeded the ones he did.

Mollohan’s 2000 disclosure report listed his income-producing assets as being worth from $179,012 to $562,000 with liabilities of $170,000 to $465,000. Among the liabilities was Visa credit card debt listed as $45,003 to $150,000.

Just four years later, Mollohan’s 2004 disclosure report showed him with assets worth $6,313,025 to $24,947,000 offset by liabilities in the $3,665,011 to $13,500,000 range. It also showed him owning an oceanfront beach house on Bald Head Island, N.C. that was valued at $1 million to $5 million. NLPC found that Mollohan was renting the beach house during the summer of 2005 for $11,975 a week.

On March 17, 2007, The Dominion Post of Morgantown, West Virginia reported that Mollohan was the target of grand jury investigation. Since that time, Mollohan has not been indicted, nor has he announced that he has been notified that he is no longer the target of the investigation.