BY: Follow @LizWFB
Democratic incumbent Sen. Mark Udall (Colo.) billed taxpayers $4,500 since 2011 for services from an independent wealth advisory firm that specializes in extremely rich clients and wealth created over multiple generations.
According to reports released by the Secretary of the Senate, Udall used official funds to pay BSW Wealth Partners, a Boulder, Colorado-based independent wealth adviser that was founded by a campaign donor, each year between 2011 and 2013.
BSW Wealth Partners is “especially skilled in advising on and managing the complexities of family and multi-generational wealth.”
Udall most recently billed the firm $2,000 for “other miscellaneous services” on July 29, 2013, according to Senate records compiled by the Sunlight Foundation. He also used official funds to pay the company $1,500 on May 28, 2012, and $1,000 on April 14, 2011.
BSW Wealth Partners provides financial and investment advice to wealthy clients who cannot manage their money by themselves. The firm managed $600 million on behalf of 150 clients as of 2010.
“Our clients are primarily successful individuals and families—sometimes spanning multiple generations—who are wealthy enough to need a sophisticated partner to assist them with protecting and growing their wealth over the long term,” the company’s website states.
“Our clients choose BSW as their partner either because they do not have the time, the skills or the inclination to manage the many facets of their personal wealth on a day-to-day basis, or because they want an experienced, reliable and trusted advisory to guide them and their other professionals through the process,” the website continues. “They rely on us to understand the fundamental questions that flow from their wealth and to provide the resources that will yield the best solutions.”
The stated mission of BSW is to manage clients’ “relationship with their wealth.”
Udall is part of a Democratic dynasty spanning six decades. His uncle, Stewart Udall, served three terms in the House representing Arizona until President John F. Kennedy appointed him Secretary of the Interior in 1961. Mark’s father, Mo Udall, was then elected to Stewart’s seat, which he held for 30 years.
Udall serves in the Senate alongside his cousin Tom, who had represented New Mexico in the House for 10 years, before being elected to the upper chamber in 2008.
“Tom's and Mark's fathers, Stewart and Morris ‘Mo’ Udall, were renowned in the rise of the modern conservation movement and key Democratic players in the Kennedy-Johnson years and beyond,” wrote Patrick O'Driscoll for USA TODAY, after both Tom and Mark announced they were running for the Senate six years ago.
BSW Wealth Partners founder Debi Baydush donated $950 to Udall’s House campaign in 1998, and donated $2,300 to Barack Obama’s campaign and PAC in 2008, according to the Federal Election Commission.
The Senate Committee on Rules and Ethics would not say whether billing taxpayers for financial investment advice was allowable under any circumstances.
“It is the responsibility for each member office to explain their expenditures,” Phillip Rumsey, a spokesperson for the Senate Rules Committee, told the Washington Free Beacon. “You will need to contact Senator Mark Udall's office with your questions.”
Udall’s Senate office did not return multiple requests for comment.
An employee for BSW Wealth Partners told the Free Beacon that they also could not comment on what services they provided Udall.
When asked further if the company offers any other services besides financial and investment advice, the employee said, “At this time I cannot say. But thank you for calling.”
The company website explains that BSW is “compensated for our advice on a fee-only basis.”
“Unlike a broker, we charge no commission for any financial or investment solutions we recommend to clients,” BSW adds. “Our advisory fee is normally either a small percentage of the value of the assets we manage for a client or a negotiated flat rate.”
“Importantly, the fee is the same regardless of the personal plan we recommend to the client,” the website reads. “This ensures that clients get unbiased advice that is always in their best interests.”
The Colorado GOP said Udall should explain why taxpayers paid for services he received from BSW.
“Mark Udall has been in Washington, D.C. for 16 years and it’s instances like this that demonstrate how much of a D.C. insider he really has become during that time,” said Matt Connelly, press secretary for the Colorado GOP. “Senator Udall needs to come clean and explain to Coloradans why he is using taxpayer money to pay for a wealth advisory firm.”