- Rep. Frank Mrvan filed a congressional financial disclosure indicating his net worth was more than $50 million.
- When Insider asked about his wealth, the congressman acknowledged the disclosure was incorrect.
- He told Insider that he takes personal responsibility for what his office called a “data entry error.”
Freshman Rep. Frank Mrvan declared in a congressional financial disclosure that he was personally worth tens of millions of dollars.
In actuality, he’s closer to broke.
Mrvan, a Democrat who represents Indiana’s 1st Congressional District, last year reported in an annual financial disclosure that he owned a public employee retirement fund
worth “over $50 million.”
When Insider asked Mrvan about this asset, the congressman acknowledged he made a mistake that led to him vastly inflating his total wealth.
His office attributed this to a “data entry error” — the holding is actually worth between $50,001 and $100,000.
Insider calculated Mrvan’s new net worth to be at least $100,000 in the red after subtracting his liabilities from his total reported assets.
“I am responsible for the actions of my office, and I take sole responsibility for the honest data entry error on my financial disclosure form,” Mrvan told Insider. “The public employee retirement fund amount should have been in the thousands and not millions. When brought to my attention, I corrected the form and resubmitted it to the House where it will again be made publicly available.”
Mrvan declined to say who, specifically, was responsible for the error and how months passed without him, or anyone on his staff, noticing it. He did not respond to a question about how he plans to avoid such a mistake in the future.
Members of Congress are required each year to submit an updated financial disclosure of their family’s personal assets, liabilities, and other finances as mandated by federal law, including the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act of 2012. The purpose: to foster public trust through transparency, curb insider trading, and defend against potential financial conflicts of interest.
Insider’s recent “Conflicted Congress” investigation, which delved into each member of Congress’ financial disclosures, discovered that at least 54 members of Congress have recently violated the STOCK Act. But congressional financial disclosures are not always rigorously reviewed for accuracy by government officials and are not subject to independent audits.
Mrvan originally appeared in an analysis of the 25 wealthiest members of Congress, published as part of “Conflicted Congress.” Insider has now removed him from the list.
Delaney Marsco, the senior legal counsel for ethics at the Campaign Legal Center, told Insider that some of the blame for the disclosure also lies with the House Committee on Ethics, which does not comment publicly on specific House member financial filings.
“The Committee on Ethics is supposed to review all of the financial disclosures to make sure they’re timely and accurate and complete,” she said.
Given how wealthy many members of Congress are, Marsco said it’s not surprising that the mistake went unseen by the committee as the large asset value may not have stood out to reviewers.
Still, she said, the error is partially related to the committee’s reliance on a “disclosure-only model,” where the committee must fully trust the veracity of each disclosure.
Marsco also noted that Mrvan’s mistake could have been avoided if congressional disclosures were, in general, structured differently: She suggested removing the requirement to file asset values in broad ranges, instead providing a more precise value for each asset.
“There’s definitely logical reasons why we have ranges, but I wonder if this could have been averted if he had been required to say the exact amount of the asset,” Marsco said. “It’s a lot harder to misplace the zero if you’re rounding to the nearest tenth of a cent.”