Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Ryun Housing Bamboozlement continues

Jim Ryun dropped by the Pittsburg Morning Sun to set the record straight.

He now claims he was never lobbied by Abramoff, but doesn't mention Ed Buckham, the man he bought the house from. He places a lot of weight on the fact that he didn't know that Buckham and gang called the house "Safe House."

Then he goes through some bamboozlement over the house's value, insisting that the house wasn't really worth what the Abramoff connected lobbying firm paid for the house. The only evidence offered is that Curt Weldon bought a different house for less money. Weldon paid $280,000 for a smaller house. The Weldons sold the house around when Ryun bought his, they got $449,000, Ryun paid $410,000.

"On the question of the house gaining value - you're taking advantage of Kansans who may not know the Washington metro market was red hot between 2001 and 2005, as all house values went way up," Weldon said. Which is true and is precisely what's at issue here. The DC market took off like gangbusters, and somehow the USFN sold their house to Jim Ryun at a loss. That's what's suspicious.

As I wrote in April,
If I felt like I just broke the bank on a new house, I probably wouldn't be replacing the whole kitchen and retiling the bathrooms right away, either. It isn't dispositive one way or another, but dropping $55,000 on paint, tiles, and closet enhancements doesn't strike me as evidence that the USFN drove a hard bargain.
The article in which Ryun found out about the house was a piece about the legal and ethical troubles of USFN. So when Ryun says "All we knew was that the house was on the market," it isn't strictly true.

He bought a house that should have appreciated $100,000 in value for $19,000 less than it had previously sold for. He claims he spent $19,000 on structural issues, and spend a lot of money on cosmetic alterations. He bought the house from a lobbyist who used to be the Chief of Staff for a close ally in the House. That ally did work for Jack Abramoff and other people who are under indictment or convicted of corrupt practices.

Ryun is right to be pushing back, but his defenses so far are actually pretty lame.