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Caught Our Eye

Senators reveal book deals and junkets in new disclosures

Posted by John Sugden on May 19, 2014

U.S. senators detailed their finances late last week, revealing outside income from such sources as book deals and even a junket paid by a Mexican media mogul on behalf of a possible presidential candidate.

The junket was reported by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who said that he took a private plane trip from Austin to Ixtapa, Mexico valued at $9,000. Cruz said it was paid for by Alejandro Junco, apparently referring to the Texas-educated CEO of Mexico's largest print media company, Grupo Reforma. Cruz justified the trip as being based on a "personal friendship."

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) reports he also received free travel, although he doesn't disclose a destination. He said he received the gift from Cortez Kennedy, a neighbor of Nelson's in Orlando who played in the NFL. Nelson valued his portion of the $7,000 charter flight as $2,300.

Of the 84 disclosures submitted, 16 senators reported royalty agreements with book publishers during 2013. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) reported receiving $70,000 as a book advance from Simon and Schuster. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) listed receiving royalties for his various entertainment industry work but did not disclose details. The royalties are apparently paid to Alan Franken Inc., a company he did not draw any income from last year but which he values as being worth $500,001-$1 million.

Additionally, 16 also listed either farm, ranch or unimproved land ownership. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) reported making between $35,004 and $110,000 from mineral rights he owns.

According to Sen. Maria Cantwell's (D-Wash.) disclosure, she has yet to recoup the personal loan she gave to her 2000 campaign worth more than $1 million. 

Sixteen senators filed extensions to the May 15 due date. Despite the Senate's move to a searchable electronic filing system, nine members opted to file their disclosures the old-fashioned way, on paper.