Appointed Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) frequently boasted during her 2012 congressional campaign that she understood what it was like to be underwater on a mortgage as she had purchased 18 undeveloped acres of land that were worth less than the amount she owed her bank. But seven years later, she has still never listed any such mortgage on her legally-required personal financial disclosure statements.
Despite losing her 2018 senate race, then-Rep. McSally was temporarily appointed to the late Sen. John McCain’s seat at the end of last year by the state’s governor, Republican Doug Ducey. After requesting and receiving a three-month extension in May, McSally filed her first disclosure statement with the Senate Office of Public Records on Friday.
Like her previous filings, McSally noted in this disclosure that she owns “18 Acres of Land” worth between $100,001 and $250,000. The “unimproved land” is in Elgin, Arizona, a community southeast of Tucson and less than 40 miles north of the Mexican border.
In her unsuccessful 2012 House campaign, McSally repeatedly mentioned the property to suggest she understood the challenges her constituents faced after the subprime mortgage crisis and resulting economic meltdown. “I bought land in Elgin in 2006. Oh, it had been climbing, climbing, climbing and, guess what, it was right before it all fell. I’m upside down on that as well,” she claimed in one campaign speech. “I bought some land in Elgin in 2006, although the bank still owns most of it,” she said in another.
But ThinkProgress reviewed her financial disclosures from that campaign and found no mention of that mortgage. The 2018 filing notes loans on other properties and a 2017 Honda car loan, but still says nothing about an Elgin mortgage.
Last May, a McSally spokesperson told ThinkProgress that McSally “has no loan on Elgin address, and it is therefore not a liability for her to disclose.” When pressed about the contradiction between her speech and her personal financial disclosures, the spokesperson cryptically answered: “Were her forms incorrect? Answer: No. Or was she wrong in her 2012 speech? Answer: No. Both her forms and 2012 speech were correct.” Her office did not immediately respond to a new inquiry about the latest disclosures or the ongoing confusion.
But despite McSally’s long-ago promise that “truthfulness” and “integrity” would be “core values” of her public life, she has repeatedly struggled to tell the truth and to complete accurate public disclosures.
Last month, the Federal Election Commission fined McSally $23,000 for campaign finance violations during her 2014 reelection bid, including accepting $319,000 in contributions above the legal limit from 117 people and failing to disclose $33,000 in political action committee donations. A year ago, an audit by the same agency unanimously found that her 2014 campaign had failed to properly disclose its finances and had failed to collect required employment information for more than 1,200 of her campaign contributions.