Sweet House Deal for Rep. Gutierrez’s Daughter

Gutierrez photoRep. Luis V. Gutierrez’s (D-IL) multitude of legal and ethical problems were compounded on Monday, when it was reported by the Chicago Sun-Times that his daughter may have gotten a sweetheart deal on her home in Chicago.

Gutierrez was the mentor of former Chicago ward-26 alderman Billy Ocasio, who initiated specialized affordable-housing programs in his district. Gutierrez’s daughter, Omaira Figueroa, benefited from the program, buying an affordable condo for a discounted $155,000 in June, 2008, and selling it for $239,900 just over a year later.

While city of Chicago rules prevent affordable-housing owners from re-selling their homes for a major profit, the housing initiative put into place by Ocasio wasn’t subject to these regulations. Figueroa, who originally purchased the condo with a $140,000 loan from her congressman father, was able to the sell the condo at a 55 percent profit.

At the time that she purchased the affordable-housing condo, Figueroa and her husband were making a combined salary of $93,828 a year, noted the Chicago Sun-Times.

Gutierrez and Ocasio denied that any unethical activity was involved, and said that no special treatment was given to Figueroa.

Gutierrez has been involved in real estate deals with Chicago restaurateur Tony Rezko, who was convicted of fraud and bribery in 2008, and developer Calvin Boender, who was convicted of bribery and obstruction of justice in March.

The congressman himself was arrested last Saturday for defying police orders during a protest against immigration enforcement outside of the White House.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has reportedly begun investigating Gutierrez’s ties to disgraced developer Boender, who has long been a political supporter of the Illinois congressman. The FBI is apparently probing Gutierrez’s assistance in getting Boender a lucrative zoning approval for a Chicago development.

UPDATE: Spokesman for Rep. Gutierrez, Doug Rivlin, told NLPC the following:

“[Figueroa] qualified under the program…We did not recommend her for the program and…it kind of had nothing to do with us. I’m kind of wondering where the story is here.”

When asked why Figueroa was able to qualify for the program, Rivlin said that there were “no rules violated, anything like that. If the program was poorly constructed, that was a different issue.”

He also denied that Gutierrez is being investigated by the FBI. “That was almost 100% inaccurate, as far as we know,” said Rivlin.

Alana Goodman is NLPC’s Capitol Hill Reporter