Last week, Rep. Jim Ryun (R-KS) released a statement purporting to prove that the townhouse he purchased from Ed Buckham's U.S. Family Network was sold at fair market price. But his statement (which we've posted here) and its accompanying documentation doesn't prove any such thing. In fact, it only confirms how odd the sale actually was.
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As we reported for the first time last Monday, Ryun bought the Capitol Hill townhouse at far below market value in 2000 - as much as $100,000 below, according to experts we spoke to. The seller was the U.S. Family Network, a nonprofit controlled by Tom DeLay's former chief of staff Ed Buckham. The USFN was little more than a front for Buckham, a slush fund pumped full of money ($2.3 million over four years) by Jack Abramoff's clients. (Buckham was recently implicated in Tony Rudy's guilty plea for helping Abramoff bribe Rudy.)
So what's Ryun's defense?
Ryun claims that he found structural deficiencies that effected the price of the townshouse. According to his statement, Ryun consulted a housing inspector who found that "the upstairs master bathroom was in danger of falling through the living room ceiling because of the size of the bathtub put in by the previous owner." He then followed up by speaking with a contractor who estimated the repairs would cost "between $10,000 and $20,000."
But Ryun does not produce documentation for these estimates, nor does he suggest that such documentation ever existed or that he provided it to the U.S. Family Network as part of the negotiations. What he did do, according to his account, was "ask" the USFN to take the contractor's estimate "into consideration." The USFN then apparently voluntarily depressed the sale price based on Ryun's verbal assurances that repairs were needed. That's seems far from a normal process of negotiation. And how many building inspectors produce no written record of their work?