Walt Minnick has deep ties to agriculture, at least he's been saying so to anyone who would listen since his successful quest to become Idaho's 1st District Congressman began in 2007. "Growing up on a wheat farm in Walla Walla . . ." became the refrain in ads and bios. And then there are those ubiquitous plaid shirts.
It was no surprise, then, to hear his insistence that he was protecting Idaho farm families from onerous tax increases when he voted to preserve a $7 million dollar per couple estate tax exemption this month. No matter that the average family farm isn't worth anywhere near that amount.
Protecting multimillion dollar estates—like his—meanwhile clucking that health care reform is too expensive. Guess that's really no surprise either.
It was a surprise to find conflicts between his financial disclosure statements and state records regarding that "wheat farm in Walla Walla."
According to the Washington Secretary of State website, Minnick holds governing positions in these four businesses in Washington state, all of which list as the registered agent his sister, Laura, in Walla Walla:
- Vice President — Foundation Farm, Inc, an active for-profit incorporated in 1965
- Vice President — Minnick Harvesters, Inc, an active for-profit incorporated in 1987
- Manager — Minnick Hills Vineyard, LLC, an active for-profit incorporated in 2000
- Member — Minnck Land Company, LLC, an active for-profit incorporated in 2002
On his 2008 financial disclosure statement filed May 15, 2009 and found at the Center for Responsive Politics, Minnick disclosed his asset value and income for just three of those businesses—but listing one twice—and only disclosed the positions he holds in one.
- Director and Vice President — Foundation Farm, Inc — disclosed value $250,001 to $500,000
- Position not disclosed — Minnick Harvesters, Inc — value not disclosed
- Position not disclosed — Minnick Hills Vineyard, LLC — disclosed value $100,001 to $250,000
- Position not disclosed — Minnck Land Company, LLC — disclosed value $500,001 to $1,000,000 (listed twice with different capital gains income amounts and without indication that the asset may be held by a dependent child)
As he disclosed them (including Minnick Land Company twice), Minnick's value in these assets falls somewhere between $1.35 million and $2.75 million but it is unclear why one asset and three governing positions are omitted from the disclosure.
Certainly Walt must have a logical explanation for this discrepancy. Certainly this isn't simply a filing error, after making the filing of accurate reports an issue in the 2008 campaign. And certainly there isn't anything else Walt has failed to disclose.
Guess we'll find out.