Report: At Least 13 U.S. Senate Hopefuls Have Troubled Past

At least 13 people running for Senate have a troubled financial past.

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Scott D'Amboise
Senatorial hopeful Republican Scott D'Amboise, speaks with an unidentified supporter during the Kennebec County Super Caucus in Augusta, Maine on Feb. 4, 2012.

At least 13 U.S. Senate hopefuls have filed for bankruptcy, faced liens for overdue taxes or been convicted of crimes, according to a new report by InvestigativeCheck, a nonpartisan research firm.

The report was published in the Washington Guardian, a new online newspaper that promises to deliver "accountability journalism."

The candidates include three Democrats, two Independents and eight Republicans. The Guardian notes that most of the financially troubled Senate hopefuls ironically push "a message of fiscal restraint."

Among them is Scott D'Amboise, a tea party candidate who filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection in 2003. D'Amboise's campaign told the Guardian that lack of adequate health coverage for his son during a medical crisis was to blame.

The report also names Brenda Lenard, who is challenging incumbent Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker for the GOP nomination. Lenard was convicted in Georgia in 1993 of deposit account fraud for writing bad checks. Court documents showed that in 2005, a federal judge in Atlanta accused Lenard of abusing the bankruptcy system after she filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy protection for the fourth time in three years. Lenard told the Guardian that both the bankruptcies and deposit account fraud conviction were due to misunderstandings.

Another Senate candidate, Ohio independent candidate Scott Rupert, is facing more than $62,000 in current tax liens. Rupert told the online publication the IRS rejected a payment plan he proposed to pay off the taxes he owed.

InvestigativeCheck also found a candidate with a criminal conviction. Bryan Hackbarth, a hopeful for the Republican nomination in Arizona, was convicted of disorderly conduct in Wisconsin in 1984 and of criminal damage in the state in 1992, according to Wisconsin Crime Information Bureau records. Hackbarth told the research firm: "Personal lives have nothing to do with people serving in the public realm...what's in the past is in the past," according to the Guardian.

As the Guardian points out, neither bankrupcty filings, liens for overdue taxes nor a criminal background prohibits someone from running for federal office.

Whispers has requested comment from all of the above-mentioned candidates. None were immediately returned.

Update, Monday 3:45 p.m.: 

Brenda Lenard told Whispers Monday that the deposit account fraud was a misdemeanor, not a felony. “I paid the fine and went on with my life,” she said.

Lenard also said that when she filed her bankruptcy forms incorrectly, she was grieving the loss of her son, who died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Read the full story at the Washington Guardian.

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  • Elizabeth Flock is a staff writer for U.S. News & World Report. You can contact her at eflock@usnews.com or follow her on Twitter.