Sherrod Brown Demands Financial Transparency. For Years, He Failed to Disclose Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars in Assets.

Ohio Democrat attacked GOP opponent for late financial disclosures before botching his own

Sherrod Brown
Sherrod Brown (Getty Images)
August 23, 2023

During his second Senate run, Sherrod Brown attacked his Republican opponent for failing to disclose financial holdings. Now, the Ohio Democrat is acknowledging he failed for years to disclose hundreds of thousands of dollars in assets.

Brown last week admitted in a letter to the Senate Office of Public Records that he omitted from his financial disclosures his wife's retirement accounts, which are worth up to $750,000. Brown's incomplete financial disclosures go all the way back to 2007, when the former state lawmaker first joined the Senate. The upper chamber requires both members and candidates to disclose their spouse's assets, including retirement accounts.

Brown's failure to disclose the assets runs counter to the campaign rhetoric the Democrat used when seeking reelection to the Senate. Brown in 2012 hammered Republican challenger Josh Mandel for filing his financial disclosure six months late, arguing in a blog post that the blunder proved Ohioans could not trust Mandel. Former Brown communications director Justin Barasky went as far as to argue Mandel "broke the law and illegally refused to disclose his personal finances," a move he called "completely unacceptable."

"The lack of transparency Ohioans are seeing from our absentee treasurer is completely unacceptable," Barasky said in 2011. "Josh Mandel is in violation of the law."

This is far from the first time Brown has landed in hot water over financial issues. Brown has on at least seven occasions failed to pay property taxes on time, and the Democrat for years claimed primary residence tax credits on two Ohio properties, a move that saved him more than $1,000, according to NBC News. Brown, who chairs the Senate Banking Committee, has touted efforts to "crackdown on wealthy tax cheats."

The missing assets from Brown's financial disclosures include a mutual fund valued between $250,001 and $500,000 and a pension plan valued between $100,001 and $250,000. Brown's wife, journalist Connie Schultz, accumulated the assets as a Plain Dealer reporter and Kent State University professor.

Brown campaign manager Rachel Petri said in a statement shared with the Washington Free Beacon that "Connie's retirement was not included" in Brown's disclosures and that "the previous reports have now been updated." Petri did not explain what caused the oversight.

Brown's financial disclosure fiasco comes as the Democrat faces a difficult reelection bid in Ohio, a state that backed former president Donald Trump by 8 percentage points in both 2016 and 2020. Recent polling puts Brown's reelection bid at a dead heat—the Democrat is tied with Ohio secretary of state Frank LaRose (R.) at 45 percent, according to a July USA Today poll.