Congressman Connie Mack has made penny-pinching debt-reduction central to his U.S. Senate campaign, but privately he has struggled at times with borrowing and paying his own obligations, court records show.
Mack sometimes appeared to spend more than he earned, had property liens filed against him, overdrew his bank account and didnt have enough money to pay his federal income taxes after his 2004 congressional election, according to court records from Fort Myers to Jacksonville to Fort Lauderdale.
His finances aside, the records also show that Mack in his youth got into four confrontations from an arrest at a nightclub to a bar brawl with a pro baseball player. Later, while in Congress, his estranged wife accused him of not living in his Fort Myers district and of using his influence to strong-arm her during their divorce.
When asked this week if candidates private lives should mirror the public policies they advocate, Mack suggested it was fair game.
Whats important is that were all human; everything that makes us human we can be held to account for, Mack, 45, said. I dont think thats different for me or anybody else.
As for the brawls, a spokesman later told The Herald that Mack was young and foolish, and that the financial troubles and allegations from his ex-wife are fairly typical of an unfortunate, difficult divorce.
This week, Mack rapped Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson for having a do as I say not as I do attitude because he opposes tax loopholes but has used an agricultural exemption to avoid higher property taxes in Brevard County.
Mack has proposed the Mack Penny Plan to trim a cent of every federal dollar spent and advocated for a balanced budget constitutional amendment two weeks ago at the Conservative Political Action Conference.
Said Mack: You cant spend more than you take in.
But hes done just that in the past.
Mack estimated he spent about $2,257.91 more monthly than he netted as a member of Congress, according to his average monthly expenditure report made in his divorce case in November 2005. Excluding the incidentals, his household costs accounted for 86 percent of his net monthly income. His annual congressional salary in 2005 was $162,100.
The case also shows that Mack missed an on-time $1,700 support payment to his estranged wife, and his bank account showed he had been overspending due to two overdraft fees totaling $175.
Macks biggest expense: a $675,000 home in the Washington suburb of Alexandria, Virginia. Mack used a generous jumbo loan and credit line from the former Countrywide Mortgage to close on the deal less than 20 days after his election. He later took out a $17,000 line of credit on the home with another lender effectively borrowing all but 98 percent of the purchase price of the house.
Mack technically wasnt in Congress at the time he closed on the house. He had just resigned his Fort Lauderdale seat in the Florida House, in which he served from 2000 to 2003.
Less than four years after he bought the Virginia home, Mack sold it for $75,000 less than he paid for it. Mack had tried to sell the house for $825,000, according to a Naples Daily News article in August 2006.
About the time he purchased the Virginia home, Mack couldnt easily pay his federal income taxes. He had to borrow the money from his father and namesake, former Sen.-turned-lobbyist Connie Mack III, according to a July 2006 Marital Settlement Agreement. Mack repaid the loan.