Watchdogs demand ethics investigation for West Virginia congressman

Laura Byrne Contributor
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Watchdog groups are ready to rebuke Democratic Rep. Nick Rahall of West Virginia for alleged ethics violations after he was reported taking a tax break by claiming Washington, D.C. as his primary residence.

According to a report by the Washington Times, Rahall saved $573 on his annual D.C. property tax bill after he obtained a homestead tax deduction for his D.C. townhouse.

The report also revealed that Rahall only pays half the property tax on his West Virginia home, saving $2,874, due to a reduced owner-occupied tax rate.

Rahall’s net worth? Close to $3 million.

“Any member taking a D.C. homestead deduction is pulling a fast one. They just can’t do it. Period,” Ken Boehm, chairman of the National Legal and Policy Center, told the Washington Free Beacon.

Because members of Congress are required to keep their primary residence the same as their constituents, Rahall could face an ethics investigation.

The homestead deduction application form reads, “A member of Congress is generally not considered a District domiciliary.”

The executive director of the left-leaning watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), Melanie Sloan told the Washington Times, “Rep. Rahall should pay back the money to the District of Columbia or drop out of his race for re-election in West Virginia.”

Sloan continued, “If the District of Columbia is his primary residence, I don’t know how he meets the residency requirements to serve as a representative from West Virginia.”

This is not the first time members of Congress have been investigated for claiming homestead tax deductions in Maryland and the District. The House Ethics Committee in 2010 cleared Democratic Rep. Pete Stark of California of any ethics violations because he unintentionally took a homestead tax deduction in his Maryland home. Unlike Stark, Rahall knowingly applied for his homestead tax deduction.

This is also not the first time someone has pointed fingers at Rahall for ethics. CREW called Rahall one of the most corrupt members of Congress in 2011. According to a Politico report, the congressman’s sister Tanya is a lobbyist who has her own mailbox in Rahall’s office, though Rahall claims his sister never lobbies him.

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