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Published: Friday, 6/28/2013

Mayoral hopeful Lopez owes big debt

Credit report reveals multiple accounts totaling $261,432

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Anita Lopez speaks during an election rally at Aurora Gonzalez Community Center. Anita Lopez speaks during an election rally at Aurora Gonzalez Community Center.
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Toledo mayoral hopeful Anita Lopez — the top Lucas County official charged with assessing property values — has the lowest credit score and the highest debt among the major candidates running for the city's top office this year, and she is the only one whose seven-year credit report is riddled with late bill-paying.

Ms. Lopez, a Democrat, made her finances public Thursday, three days after Councilman D. Michael Collins and Mayor Mike Bell and a day after Democratic Councilman Joe McNamara released recent credit scores, credit reports, and tax returns.

Her credit score is 621 according to Experian, 631 according to TransUnion, and 635 according to Equifax, which are three popular credit-reporting companies. Ms. Lopez, the Lucas County auditor, declined an interview request Thursday. Her credit score is considered “fair.”

Ms. Lopez’s credit report said she has up to 13 “open accounts,” 11 of which have balances totaling $261,432. Equifax said she has 14 negative accounts; TransUnion listed 17 negative accounts, and Experian said there were eight negative accounts.

“Most lenders would consider you to be a high risk,” the credit report said. “You may have difficulty qualifying for conventional loans and credit cards — and when you do qualify for credit, you will be charged high interest rates.”

Her total credit-card debt appeared to be about $10,000, according to the report.

Ms. Lopez owes between $116,868 and $118,1157 for her home mortgage, according to her credit report. The mortgage payments were reported 30 days past due three times: in February, 2012, February, 2011, and December, 2010.

She has an open loan with Toledo Metro Federal Credit Union for her vehicle, for which she owes about $34,060 and has a $831 monthly payment for a Jeep Commander. She had a vehicle repossessed, but that blemish does not appear on her credit report because it was more than seven years ago, Lopez campaign spokesman Diane May said.

Ms. Lopez also owes money for student loans from her time at University of Toledo’s undergraduate and law schools. She graduated from law school in 1997, three years after she received her bachelor of arts degree in political science from UT. The loans are divided into four accounts with balances of $13,386, $41,283, $23,540, and $21,899 for a total of $100,108. The student loan accounts were 60 days past due seven times, and 30 days past due twice.

Her revolving accounts — those with a credit limit and require a minimum payment every month like a credit card — included late payments.

A “CAP1/BSTBY” account, which appeared to be a credit card opened in 2005,” has a $2,586 balance. It was reported delinquent in February, 2011, and August, 2010.

A Capital One account opened in 1998 had a $2,327 balance and was reported delinquent in September, 2011, and October, 2011.

Her open accounts also include:

● A “Capital One/Furniture Row” account opened in March, 2009. It has a $2,542 balance and was reported delinquent in June, 2011.

● A “HSBC Furniture Row” account has a zero balance. It was reported delinquent in July, 2011.

● A “Kohls/Capital One” account has a $808 balance and was delinquent in February, 2012, October, 2011, and June, 2011.

● A “THD/CBNA” account with a $844 balance was 30 days delinquent seven times according to Equifax and Experian.

A closed account with “Ally Financial” had a zero balance but showed four payments that were 30 days past due.

Another account listed as “BONY/ELT/ELABTI/GLHEC,” has a zero balance and was reported one time as past due 90 days.

A closed account with “TD Auto Finance” was reported twice as delinquent, 30 days each.

Her closed accounts included a Fifth Third Bank credit card that was late in February; a Bank of America account that was reported delinquent twice, and an American Express card that was reported 90 days past due 16 times over the past seven years by Experian, but was not reported late by the other two companies.

By comparison to Ms. Lopez’s credit score of 621, Mr. McNamara’s credit score is 747, considered “very good” on the FICO range that goes from 300 to 850. He obtained the score from TransUnion while Ms. Lopez used Equifax to get all three scores.

Mr. Collins and Mr. Bell, both independents, obtained credit scores under the “VantageScore” model, which is the name of a credit-rating product offered by the three major credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. 

The top VantageScore is 990. Multiplying a VantageScore by 0.86 translates it into an approximate FICO score. Mr. Collins’ credit report showed a 916 score and Mr. Bell’s was 927. Translated to the FICO model, Mr. Collins would have a 787 score and Mr. Bell would have a 797 score.

The other candidates would not comment on Ms. Lopez’s finances.

Mr. Collins, who was first to released his credit report and tax returns, followed several hours later by Mayor Bell, said it was not his intention to create such a “compelling situation” for the others. “I did it because I felt it was important that I defined my position on transparency by being transparent myself,” Mr. Collins said. “I think this is in all fairness critical to the voters. I am pleased that the other three candidates have all followed my path.”

Mayor Mike Bell, through a spokesman, declined to comment on Ms. Lopez’s financial information. Andrew Grunwald, Mr. McNamara’s campaign manager, instead attacked Ms. Lopez for union contracts negotiated under Ms. Lopez. “The real issue is that Lopez is the only county politician to give raises at a time when nobody else is,” he said. “It’s a sign of fiscal responsibility, of how you are going to treat the taxpayers money, or in Lopez’s case, the lack of her fiscal responsibility.”

He also would not comment on her personal financial information.

Ms. Lopez filed an extension for her 2012 tax returns. Her 2011 tax documents showed $79,127 in salary from her elected job as Lucas County auditor and $7,000 in alimony for a total of $86,127. She listed $2,113 in charitable donations.

Mr. McNamara, a lawyer who collects up to a $27,500 annual council salary, did not release his 2012 tax returns since he too filed an extension. His 2011 tax returns showed $35,375 in total income. Of that $24,091 was from wages and salary, $13,721 was from ordinary dividends, and $448 was from taxable refunds, credits, or offsets of state and local taxes. Mr. McNamara reported a $1,646 business income loss and $1,500 capital gain loss. He did not itemize charitable donations.

According to their joint 2012 federal tax return, Mr. Collins and his wife — Sandra Drabik, who is retired from the University of Toledo — made a combined $205,244 last year. That includes Ms. Drabik’s retirement benefits and $5,168 from Social Security benefits collected by Mr. Collins. His 2012 income included $42,247 from his pension from almost three decades as a Toledo police officer, $23,797 from his Toledo City Council salary, and $1,783 from Lourdes University. He gave $4,791 in charitable donations last year, the documents show.

Mayor Bell’s 2012 federal tax return showed $108,481 in salary; $31 from taxable interest; $541 from taxable refunds, credits, or offsets of state and local income taxes, and $69,395 from pensions and annuities. He gave $8,584 in charitable donations last year, the documents stated.

Staff writer Nolan Rosenkrans contributed to this report.

Contact Ignazio Messina at:

imessina@theblade.com

or 419-724-6171.


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