News - Capital University Law School

Professor Smith Says Congresswoman’s Housing Deal Raises Questions

9/23/2022  - 

Professor Bradley A. Smith‘s interview with the Associated Press on U.S. Representative Katie Porter’s university housing agreement has been blowing up the Internet.

The story, which was published in news outlets across the country, including the Washington Post, discusses the below-market price Porter (D-Calif.) paid for her house despite its’ estimated value of nearly twice that amount.

The deal was provided as a strategy to lure academics to the University of California, Irvine, given the high cost of living in the area. Porter has managed to maintain her residence despite taking a leave of absence from the university four years ago when she was elected to the House.

“It sounds like the sort of insider deal that really makes people mad at Congress,” Smith is quoted in the article. Smith, a Republican, was appointed by President Clinton to serve on the Federal Election Commission in 2000, a role he held for five years, including a one-year term as chairman.

He says the issue could violate an FEC regulation that prohibits third parties from paying living expenses for federal candidates, but he suggests that this situation is a little murkier.

“Let’s suppose they were paying her mortgage,” he says in the article. “Here, it is a little different than that. They are just letting her keep a deal that she had previously. But it does seem to subsidize her income. If I were still serving on the commission and that complaint came in, I’d be very interested in seeing her response.”

The article also notes that the housing deal appears to fly in the face of Rep. Porter’s past rhetoric. She often has been critical of a political landscape where those who are well-off receive privileges not afforded to everyone else.