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Consumer debt an issue for some of state’s congressional delegation, too

WASHINGTON — Minnesotans feeling an economic pinch these days may be able to empathize with some members of the state’s congressional delegation and their challengers in the fall elections.

Both 1st District Rep. Tim Walz and 3rd District Rep. Jim Ramstad listed some surprising consumer debts in the latest financial disclosure reports.

Although Walz reported assets between $289,000 and $735,000, he also listed several personal debts totaling between $75,000 and $165,000.

In many instances, members of Congress can report their financial wealth and holdings in broad financial categories.

“He has a lot of debt; he’s not wealthy, said spokeswoman Meredith Salsbery. “A fair amount was accrued when he was campaigning.” Walz also was on leave from his teaching job and not collecting a paycheck for most of 2006. Interestingly enough, Walz declined a congressional pay raise this year because Congress did not balance the budget.

Walz, a Democrat, is running against Mayo Clinic Dr. Brian Davis, who reported a salary of $411,720 in 2007. His wife also received a salary from the Mayo Clinic totaling $52,009.31 in 2007. Davis holds between $2000 and $30,000 in Pfizer stock. Overall, his assets total between $244,000 and $710,000.

Rep. Jim Ramstad, a Republican who is retiring this year, reported assets between $2.87 million and $12.1 million. He also owns a 3,020-acre farm in North Dakota worth between $1 million and $5 million, according to personal financial disclosure documents. Ramstad’s wife reported credit card debt with American Express and Neiman Marcus totaling between $30,000 and $100,000. Other debts included $60,000 and $115,000 to First Western Bank and Wells Fargo Bank.

Rep. John Kline reported assets between $253,000 and $720,000, including a Russian investment fund valued between $1,000 and $15,000. Kline, a Republican, also owns, through his wife, a 534-acre farm in Houston, Minn., that is valued between $100,000 and $250,000. Kline also disclosed a trip paid by The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank based in Washington, D.C.

Kline is running against Steve Sarvi, who reported total assets between $21,000 and $140,000.

Running for Ramstad’s seat are DFLer Ashwin Madia and Republican Erik Paulsen, a member of the state House of Representatives. Madia, an associate attorney at Mike Ciresi’s law firm, reported assets between $46,000 and $166,000. Madia also reported between $15,000 and $50,000 in student loan debt.

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