State treasurer candidate says bankruptcies make him a better candidate

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Arkansas state treasurer candidate Mark Lowery filed for personal bankruptcy twice, in 1998 and 2017, according to federal court records.

Lowery is a Republican state representative from Maumelle who announced his candidacy for treasurer in January after several months of campaigning for secretary of state.

He filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in May 1998, which under federal law provides for the sale of a debtor’s non-exempt assets and distribution of the proceeds to creditors, also known as liquidation. The case was dismissed later the same year, according to documents.

In 2017, he filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, which provides for the settlement of the debts of an individual with a regular income and allows the individual to keep his assets and pay his debts over time, and is still in paying off about $68,000 in debt, according to the most recent filings.

Lowery’s main opponent, State Sen. Mat Pitsch, R-Fort Smith, said Lowery’s financial background does not bode well for his ability to do the job as a state banker. The state treasurer is responsible for an investment portfolio of more than $5 billion, according to the current job holder’s website.

“I understand that it happens once, but if it happens repeatedly, it shows what your financial skills are,” Pitsch said by phone Friday. “You couldn’t have those credentials and still be a bank president.”

Lowery said in an interview Thursday that the state treasurer’s office has financial advisers and investment staff, and he would have no problem working with strong staff. He added that his own setbacks allow him to sympathize with his constituents.

“Do I believe that all the personal financial issues I have make me a better candidate? Yes. Because when they tell me, when the Arkansans tell me they’re having trouble, I get it. And I understand that sometimes these things happen through no direct fault of their own,” he said.

Local media KATV and the Arkansas Times were first to report on the 2017 case earlier this year.

When KATV reporter Marine Glisovic asked in February how many times he had filed for bankruptcy, Lowery replied that he had done so once, according to his report. Asked about this response by the Democrat-Gazette last week, he said he had forgotten about the 1998 file.

Lowery said his only debt in the case was for a car, which he ended up returning to the bank. He said his income for the past two years had been the management of a golf course property at the North Little Rock Veterans’ Hospital in Fort Roots and expected to have the option of a lease. term that was instead awarded to the Town of North Little Roche.

Lowery said it took him a few months to find a job that would have put him in a better position to keep the car.

Regarding the February 2017 filing, Lowery said he entered into a short-term loan modification agreement with Nationstar Mortgage Company to obtain a lower rate.

Court records show Lowery sued Nationstar in February 2017, before his home was put up for auction in a foreclosure sale, for failing to notify him that he did not meet the criteria for a loan modification or loan modification. forbearance assistance.

In the lawsuit, Lowery said he had made payments on the mortgage, but the company began dismissing them in the fall of 2016. A lawyer for Nationstar denied the allegations in Lowery’s lawsuit, documents show. judicial. Lowery’s attorney eventually requested that the case be dismissed. Lowery said on Thursday he was unable to get a hearing before a judge and risked losing his home.

“Running out of time, the only recourse I had was to file for bankruptcy,” he said.

He also referenced a class action lawsuit against Nationstar alleging the company violated consumer protection laws, which resulted in a settlement in 2020. Lowery was not a party to that lawsuit.

Lowery is under a 60-month plan to pay a total of $67,556, according to court documents from 2019.

The 2017 filing includes nearly $8,000 in credit card debt on various cards, among other charges.

“It’s not unusual to have credit card debt, but again, it’s all being reorganized and everyone is getting paid,” he said.

Lowery was also sued by the Department of Finance and State Administration for approximately $1,300 in unpaid income taxes in 2016 and 2017. He said the case was due to incomplete information about his mortgage deduction. The case was resolved in 2020, records show.

The Republican primary is scheduled for May 24. The winner will face Democrat Pam Whitaker of Little Rock in the Nov. 8 general election. Outgoing state treasurer Dennis Milligan is serving a term and running as state auditor.

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