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Emanuel Cleaver’s Congressional Salary to Be Garnished: Live from The Roasterie CXXIV: March 21, 2014

Court issues order to garnish Emanuel Cleaver’s congressional wages in car wash case:

The Jackson County court clerk issued a wage garnishment order against Cleaver’s employer — the U.S. House — on behalf of Bank of America. The order instructs the House to withhold part of Cleaver’s salary to help repay more than $1.3 million he and his wife now owe the bank. It’s the second time the bank has asked the court to garnish Cleaver’s wages for the debt, first incurred more than a decade ago....

Garnishing the wages of a sitting congressman appears to be rare.... Payroll services for House members are provided by the Office of the Chief Administrative Officer. A spokeswoman for the office declined to comment on the garnishment of Cleaver’s wages or the general history of garnishments in the House. The press office of the House Committee on Administration also declined to comment.

Cleaver’s office issued a statement: “As the congressman and Mrs. Cleaver have repeatedly said, for almost two years now, they are working with Bank of America to meet their financial obligations, in a broad spectrum of ways, and that hasn’t changed.”... A spokesman for Bank of America also declined to comment on the garnishment request, as did the bank’s Kansas City lawyer....

It’s highly unlikely garnished wages alone would ever satisfy the Cleavers’ debt to the Bank of America. On Tuesday, court papers show, Emanuel and Dianne Cleaver owed the bank $1,320,275. The debt is the result of a loan the two obtained in 2002 to buy a car wash in Grandview. The car wash business, which performed poorly, was sold last year and the proceeds used to retire part of the Cleavers’ obligation. But the sale fell far short of covering the entire amount of the Cleavers’ debt. Last April, the congressman and his wife settled a longstanding lawsuit with the Bank of America over the remaining balance of the loan. In that agreement, the Cleavers admitted they owed the bank more than $1.2 million. Interest costs continue to accrue on that debt.

Roughly 75 percent of the loan is guaranteed by the Small Business Administration. That federal agency may be responsible for part of the debt if the Cleavers, or their company, default. Experts said the garnishment requests might be part of the ongoing process to recover money from the Cleavers before turning to the SBA for funds.

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