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Blake Moore takes a pay cut to join Congress while Burgess Owens nearly triples his wages

Both new Utah House members will receive a salary of $174,000 a year.

(Tribune file photos) Utah Reps.-elect Burgess Owens, left and Blake Moore. Moore will take a sizeable pay cut to work in Congress, while Owens will actually see an increase in pay.

Rank-and-file members of Congress are paid an annual salary of $174,000. When Rep.-elect Blake Moore, R-Utah, is sworn into office office Sunday, the 40-year-old management consultant will take a pay cut.

But Utah’s other incoming freshman, Burgess Owens, a 69-year-old former NFL player who made money by running a charity and giving speeches, will nearly triple his salary.

That’s according to personal financial forms that the pair filed with Congress, plus additional information that Moore provided.

Moore, who in 2019 was promoted to a principal at the Cicero group, says he was paid a salary in 2020 of $181,020 plus a year-end bonus based on performance.

So “it will be a decrease for me to go back to Congress,” Moore said.

Not to worry. His forms show that he and his wife are millionaires, with assets worth between $3.7 million and $6.9 million — or more. That doesn’t count his personal home or cars, which are not disclosed on congressional forms.

It could be more than that top amount because of how assets are reported, in broad ranges, sometimes with no upper limit.

Two assets held by Moore’s wife, Jane, a daughter of prominent developer Roger Boyer, are each valued “over $1 million” — with no upper limit. Those assets are shares in different real estate and commercial investment arms of the Roger Boyer Family Partnership.

Moore’s disclosure forms show that his “unearned income” from interest and dividends on investments plus some rental income in 2020 was between $322,456 and $2.39 million.

He disclosed a long list of stock holdings in some of the nation’s best-known companies, including Amazon, American Express, Apple, Boeing, Bank of America, Berkshire Hathaway, Facebook, Johnson and Johnson, Microsoft, Raytheon and The Walt Disney Co.

Moore said he has been consulting with the House Ethics Committee to discuss how to handle those investments in compliance with House rules, which might require fairly frequent updates on his disclosure forms for any transactions and trades. Such rules were developed to help prevent insider trading by members of Congress.

Moore said he is looking to avoid the need of such frequent updates by using index funds (with less-frequent trades) or blind trusts managed by others.

“That’s all something that I’m considering and actually working with a financial adviser on figuring out,” Moore said. “There’s a lot of things to consider and a lot of nuance.”

Owens, meanwhile, reported on amended disclosure forms that he earned $63,607 in 2019, the last full year for which his income needed to be reported. That’s about a third of the $174,000 House salary he will receive.

“So I get a raise,” Owens said. “Here’s the thing that I think is very important.... I’m so proud that this new group [of GOP freshmen] are not looking to be career politicians. We’re not looking at being lobbyists someday. There are many other things I could have done to get more money.... I’m there on a mission. I’m not there to be a long-term politician.”

(Rick Egan |Tribune file photo) Rep.-elect Burgess Owens talks to the media at the GOP election headquarters on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020.

His “earned income” in 2019 included $11,109 from speaking engagements, $14,037 in royalties from books, a combined $3,461 for work at wellness companies Melaleuca and Quintessential Biosciences, and $35,000 for work at his somewhat controversial Second Chance 4 Youth charity. (An initial filing said he earned $70,000 at the nonprofit, but he later amended it).

On top of that, he reported “unearned income” between $20,001 and $65,000 from Social Security payments and an NFL pension.

An earlier story reported that Second Chance 4 Youth — formed to help troubled and incarcerated youths — raised $108,793 in donations in 2019, but none of it actually went directly to help youths, according to a report it filed with the state Division of Consumer Protection.

But Owens said working with young people is his passion. “When my time is done or when people feel that I’m not representing them, I’m more than happy to come back and work with the kids.”

Other parts of Owens’ personal finances were controversial during the campaign, including being attacked in ads for multiple bankruptcies through the years.

Meanwhile, Moore and Owens report that they has been working hard to launch their offices as the new Congress begins.

“That’s been a priority to make sure that we are up and running on day one not only in the D.C. office, but the district office in downtown Ogden,” Moore said. “I’m going to be available for constituent services and input.”

He drew a lowly 51 out of 57 in a lottery among freshmen for the order to choose new offices. But he’s happy with the one he scored on the third floor of the Longworth House Office Building. “At least it’s not in the basement,” he said. “It has plenty of daylight and windows.”

Owens’ office will be on the same floor in the same building, after he drew No. 19 of 57 in the lottery.

Moore and Owens say they will move into apartments on Capitol live. Moore will not move his young family there. He said his wife and three children plan to squeeze into his new one-bedroom apartment for some visits when possible. “The boys have slept in worse situations in family trips before,” he said. “It’ll make it memorable.”

He said because of limited tickets due to COVID-19, only his wife and 8-year-old son will attend his swearing-in. “The twins,” he said, “will go next time.”

Owens will bring three daughters and seven grandchildren to Washington for the swearing-in Sunday. But with COVID-19 restrictions, “most of them will be watching from the hotel.”

He still loves that they will at least be in Washington. “My kids were way too young to remember me playing in the NFL,” he said. “To have them experience this [swearing-in] with me and to see the dreams I have ... is a real honor, and I look forward to it.”


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