Ex US Congressman Kerry Bentivolio recently filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy declaring that he only $100 in cash and $200 in a savings account while he listed close to $300,000 in debts and unpaid bills.
The former congressman made $174,000 a year as a lawmaker but he did not own a credit card and was able to spend only what he had to his name. A major part of his debts consisted of an unpaid mortgage, legal fees, and unpaid rent for his Washington, DC apartment.
Events Leading to Chapter 7 Filing
The congressman was a former reindeer farmer and school teacher before he entered politics. Failing to raise enough funds to support his candidacy, Bentivolio sold his reindeer and borrowed from his retirement fund in order to pay his campaign bills in 2014.
The next blow came when he fired his campaign manager due to loyalty issues. The disgruntled campaign manager sued him for damages and unpaid benefits. The county court issued judgment against Bentivolio and ordered him to pay the campaign manager around $120,000.
The day after Congress adjourned, Bentivolio said that he tried to reduce his debt and raise funds by bringing back some of the furniture and items he bought at Ikea. In order to relieve the pressure of mounting obligations, Bentivolio sought relief from the federal court by filing for bankruptcy.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in the United States
Bankruptcy is a legal remedy available to individuals and corporations who are unable to pay their debts. Under the United States Bankruptcy Code, a debtor may file for debt relief under different Chapters: 7, 11, 12, and 13.
In 2014, the US Bankruptcy Courts reported that a total of 911,086 new cases of bankruptcy under different chapters were filed in the US courts. 596,867 of those filings were based on Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code. Of all Chapter 7 filings, 579,340 were classified as non-business debts.
Chapter 7 allows a debtor to liquidate his assets, the proceeds of which will be used to pay certain debts – but not everyone can qualify for Chapter 7 filing.
The law requires the debtor to meet the ‘means test’, a complex formula for determining whether the application for debt relief is presumptively abusive, in which case, filing a Chapter 7 is not allowed. However, if you are faced with mounting debts that you are unable to pay off as they fall due, you may still be qualified to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
In Vancouver, Washington, the Law Office of Erin Bradley McAleer has years of experience in bankruptcy cases. We help people overcome their most difficult challenges and start a new life. Attorney McAleer is one of the National Trial Lawyers’ top 40 attorneys in Washington under 40 and maintains an Avvo Superb Rating of 10.0.
We invite you to call our office at (360) 334-6277 if you are in financial trouble.