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U.S. Rep. Tracey Mann of Kansas supports bill that could lead to conflict of interest

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Tracey Mann headshot
Ike Hayman
U.S. House of Representatives
When it comes to Rep. Mann's investment in opportunity zones, Donald Sherman of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington says "I think disinvestment would be the cleanest and, sort of, the 'highest' standard of ethics."

A recent Mother Jones article highlighted a bill co-sponsored by Tracey Mann that would extend tax breaks in opportunity zones where he owns properties.

Opportunity zones were originally created through a federal program with the goal of increasing development in underserved areas.

The proposed bill Mann supports would extend substantial tax benefits for investors with ventures and properties in those zones. But, the program has been controversial according to Brett Theodos of the Urban Institute.

"It's a really open-ended tax incentive, so you could use it for things that might be considered in the community's interest," he says. "But, you can use it for things that you might begin to question why it is that we're subsidizing these as a government. Like, luxury housing, or you know, high end spaces, or other things like self-storage lockers."

Representative Mann's most recent congressional financial disclosure shows that he held as much as $515,000 in ventures within opportunity zones. Donald Sherman is the senior vice president and chief counsel at Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, and he says there are several concerning components to this situation.

"Mr. Mann stands to benefit significantly from the extension of these tax benefits," Sherman explains. "And it's fair to question why he would co-sponsor legislation that has such a significant impact on his own bottom line."

The congressman did not respond to KCUR's request for comment.

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