BY DEE SHESGREEN
The Cincinnati Enquirer
CINCINNATI—Rep. Jean Schmidt received $582,768 over three years from the Turkish Coalition of America, and she still owed at least $515,000 in legal fees at the end of 2011, according to her most recent financial disclosure report.
The Miami Township Republican reported three debts—all to law firms that represented her in her legal tangle with opponent David Krikorian and the ethics case that ensued.
Last summer, the House ethics committee found that Schmidt had accepted an improper gift from the Turkish Coalition. Although the panel found that she didn’t know the coalition was paying her legal fees, it ordered her to repay the funds and report them on her disclosure form.
Schmidt sued Krikorian after he claimed that she had taken “blood money” from the government of Turkey in exchange for her opposition to efforts that would label as “genocide” the killings of Armenians living in Turkey during World War I.
The Ohio Elections Commission ruled in her favor; she also filed a defamation lawsuit against Krikorian in June 2010, in Clermont County Common Pleas Court, seeking $6.8 million in damages. She has since dropped that case.
To comply with the ethics ruling, Schmidt reported receiving about $430,000 in 2009 and 2010 from the Turkish coalition. And her latest report shows she got another $152,658 in 2011.
So far, she has repaid about $43,000 of the legal tab from her personal funds. She has said she intends to raise money through her legal expense trust to replay the rest.
But she’s only raised $5,000 for that account. And when she leaves Congress early next year, she will not have to comply with the House ethics ruling.
Overall, Schmidt reported assets valued at between $2.85 million and $10.4 million. Lawmakers only have to report their assets and debts in wide ranges, so determining precise net worth is not possible.