Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Berman camp claims Sherman used campaign bank account for personal gain

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Democrats Howard Berman, left, and Brad Sherman are incumbent Congressmen who find themselves vying for the same seat because of redistricting.

The Berman-Sherman fight got a little nastier Monday.

Behind in the polls, the re-election campaign of Congressman Howard Berman accused rival Congressman Brad Sherman of “potential impropriety” when he earned interest on loans he made to his own campaign. The Berman campaign also said Sherman’s re-payment schedule allowed him to collect more interest. Over two decades, that amounted to $461,000, the Berman campaign alleged. 

“Congressman/CPA Brad Sherman has devised a scheme to use his campaigns as vehicles for self-enrichment and personal profit,” said Brandon Hall, senior advisor to the Berman campaign. (Sherman is a Certified Public Accountant).

In a statement, Sherman spokesman John Schwada responded that the practice was “completely legal,” and that the Congressman always charged interest that was at least two percent less than the rate he would have received “had he simply left the money in the bank.”  He noted other members of Congress engage in similar practices.

“Berman is trying to distract voters from his own astonishing record of abusing public office to enrich himself and members of his family,” Schwada countered. “Howard Berman has paid his brother, Michael Berman, $741,500 in political funds to run his campaigns from 1992 to 2010 — despite the fact that Berman has not faced a serious election challenge.”

Berman and Sherman — both incumbent Democrats — are locked in a bitter battle in the western San Fernando Valley after the Citizen’s Redistricting Commission placed them in the same congressional district. Berman finished second to Sherman in the primary by ten percentage points. One recent poll found he is now 13 points behind.

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