Judge garnishes House Dem's wages for debt

A Missouri judge has ordered that part of the congressional salary of Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) must be withheld to help pay off a bank loan.

According to the Kansas City Star, Cleaver and his wife Dianne borrowed $1.35 million in 2002 to buy a car wash. But the business didn't do well — they sold it, but have still barely made a dent in their total debt over the last 12 years.

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The paper said Bank of America has twice asked that Cleaver's $174,000 salary be garnished to start paying off the loan. The lawmaker's office released a statement to the Star saying the Cleavers are working on a debt payment arrangement with the bank.

"[F]or 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," his office said.

The Star didn't made clear how much money would be taken from Cleaver's paychecks, but said federal law limits garnishing to 25 percent of salary.

The Star has reported that 75 percent of the loan was guaranteed by the Small Business Administration. That means if the Cleavers were to default, most of the outstanding balance could be paid off by taxpayers.