An eight-term congressman who serves on the House Financial Services Committee has quietly declared personal bankruptcy and is blaming his family meat company for his problems.
Rep. Ruben Hinojosa, D-Texas, has $2.9 million in liabilities, according to his filing last Dec. 18 in federal bankruptcy court. Almost all of the owed money, $2.6 million, is a claim by Wells Fargo Bank, the nation's fourth-largest bank.
The Financial Services panel has jurisdiction over legislation affecting banks. House aides and outside experts said the House has no rules forbidding a lawmaker who owes large sums to a bank from serving on that committee.
In a written statement, Hinojosa blamed his bankruptcy on a loan he personally guaranteed for H&H Meat Products Co. of Mercedes, Texas, which he says was forced into its own bankruptcy because of the recent economic crisis. He said he has not managed the company for the past 14 years but remained obligated by a bank line of credit.
"I have done everything humanly possible to avoid filing for bankruptcy protection to no avail," Hinojosa said in the statement, provided by his lawyer, Eduardo V. Rodriguez. "The bank debt of H&H was more than I could handle financially."
Hinojosa, who never announced his bankruptcy filing, has nearly $1.5 million in assets, according to papers filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Southern District of Texas in McAllen, Texas. He earns $174,000 annually as a House member.