A review of mandatory personal financial disclosure forms filed by all current members of the House and Senate reveals at least 19 have accepted loans from organizations or moneyed individuals instead of a bank or traditional financial institution. Often, these organizations and individuals rank among the lawmakers’ key political supporters. In two of these cases, the loans were made to members’ spouses.
Two of the loans were made in the early 1990s; the rest were made in 2003 or later. While two of the congressional members in question have recently paid off their loans, the other 17 or their spouses remain in debt to their benefactors. The loans range in value from $15,000 to $5 million.
Some of the members in question borrowed the money before being elected to Congress, effectively indebting them to wealthy benefactors during their initial days and months as elected federal officials.
There’s nothing illegal about such loans, even when the lender is also a campaign contributor. And there’s no explicit evidence of a quid pro quo in which legislative action was taken in exchange for the loan. But government watchdog groups and others say such arrangements raise serious concerns about possible conflicts of interest.