By The Associated Press
INDIANAPOLIS — Profits from family property sales boosted the personal finances of an Indiana state senator who has given at least $1 million toward her campaign for a congressional seat, according to a published report.
Republican Sen. Victoria Spartz claimed only her legislative pay of about $71,000 as earned income last year on disclosure reports, but she and her husband have largely made their money buying, selling, leasing and farming land, the Indianapolis Business Journal reported.
Spartz is facing Democrat Christina Hale in a costly campaign for central Indiana’s 5th Congressional District seat in the November election. Spartz won the June primary over 14 other Republican candidates after flooding TV screens and mailboxes with ads. Her money made up more than three-quarters of her campaign funding.
Spartz recently told the newspaper without giving details that the money for her congressional campaign came from property sale profits, and that she and her husband decided to invest in the political race after at first intending to buy or build a new house.
State and local property records show that Victoria and Jason Spartz have owned several properties over the past 15 years or so and now own least 134 acres of farmland, residential parcels and vacant commercial property in Hamilton County just north of Indianapolis.
“Jason and Victoria do not speculate or flip real estate, but actually invest real money in real estate,” said Catherine Seat, Spartz’s campaign manager. “It usually takes a while to get returns in these investments.”
Seat said the couple has “worked hard, saved money, and been successful in business. We need more of those skills in Congress.”
In one deal, the family owned Spartz Farms last year sold a 34.5-acre property in Noblesville that until recently included an auto junkyard for $5.1 million after buying it for $920,000 in 2004, according to property records.
The developer who bought the land is planning a $31 million business park project for the site along the major suburban Indianapolis east-west route of 146th Street. That road linking Interstate 69 and Indiana 37 had not yet been built when Spartz Farms bought the land, but real estate experts say, even as early as the 1990s, it was obvious the area would be developed.
“It always had the potential,” said Tim Monger, a former president and CEO of the Hamilton County Economic Development Corp. who is now a senior vice president for Indianapolis-based Resource Commercial Real Estate. “I think most people could see that.”
Another Spartz family owned entity, however, lost a 34-acre site in Noblesville to foreclosure in 2010 after plans to attract a Target store to the property fell apart.
The family had bulldozed and filled in wetlands at the site in 2007 before state environmental regulators stopped the work because they had failed to obtain state and federal permissions, The Indianapolis Star reported in February.
“This project was a casualty of the major real estate crash in 2008, where Target had to cancel all projects,” Seat said. “Therefore, it went back to the bank with deed in lieu of foreclosure. That is a risk every investor always faces.”