The economic downturn — combined with the crashes of the sub-prime mortgage and housing markets — has hit Arizona especially hard. Yet as Valley residents struggle to stay in their homes, perennial congressional candidate David Schweikert is circling overhead, preying on homeowners and profiting from Arizona’s foreclosure crisis.

“Stabilizing our housing sector is critical to Arizona’s economic recovery, but David Schweikert is banking on its failure,” said Luis Heredia, Arizona Democratic Party executive director. “After mismanaging his second failed campaign for Congress and racking up a half-million dollars in campaign debt, I can see the desire to make a quick buck. But doing so on the backs of suffering families who are being foreclosed on and forced onto the streets is despicable.”

For two years, Schweikert has not been forthcoming about his real estate dealings, particularly how they relate to the housing and foreclosure crisis that continues to rock Arizona’s economy and ravage our neighborhoods. He has remained conspicuously vague when discussing his occupation, describing himself as “a small business man” or the owner of a small “real estate business.” But the fact is, he is a predatory real-estate investor – the type of investor that real estate experts often call a “vulture” or “bottom feeder” because they profit from failed, foreclosure-ridden markets.

“Arizona is second in the nation in foreclosures. And in this market, our loss is literally David Schweikert’s gain,” Heredia said.

Today, the Arizona Democratic Party is launching, so Arizona residents can read the facts for themselves and see how Schweikert’s foreclosure investment scheme blooms in an unstable, falling economy by profiting off the misery of others and threatening Arizona’s long-term recovery.

Among the website’s highlights:

* In some of the most hard-hit neighborhoods in the Valley, Schweikert has expanded his foreclosure scheme to include more than $11 million in real estate holdings [Source: Maricopa County Recorder]

* While claiming to revitalize neighborhoods, Schweikert’s company has been cited repeatedly for blight and neglect, facing thousands of dollars in fines. [Source: City of Phoenix]

* Schweikert’s foreclosure investment scheme has the potential to further shake Arizona neighborhoods by thwarting long-term investment, with short-term rental gain. Law enforcement experts say that the large numbers of rental homes in the Valley make their jobs more difficult because criminal human smugglers and Mexican cartels frequently use rentals as “drop houses” used in the trafficking of illegal immigrants and drugs. [Arizona Republic, Aug. 31, 2008]

* Schweikert has made hundreds of thousands of dollars in the last year operating his home foreclosure investment scheme. [Source: 2009 Schweikert Personal Financial Disclosure Statement]

Follow The Money

Shortly after his second failed congressional campaign came to an end in 2008, Schweikert announced he was going to run for Congress again. [Source: The Arizona Capitol Times’ Yellow Sheet, “Schweikert: Another ‘Crazy’ Run in 2010,” November 10, 2008].

Since then, he’s racked up a half-million dollars in campaign debt to self-fund another congressional run. Not only are the profits from Schweikert’s foreclosure investment scheme lining his own pockets, they are lining the pockets of his business partners, who in turn, are contributing heavily to his third, debt-ridden congressional campaign. [Source: The Federal Elections Commission, August 12, 2010]

“Unfortunately, it’s not the first time shady real estate dealings and shell games have ensnarled political officials in Arizona – just ask Rick Renzi or Fife Symington,” Heredia said. “While David Schweikert says he wants to clean up Washington, it’s clear that his clean-up exercise should start in his backyard(s). He should start by disclosing the size and nature of his predatory scheme, who his investors are and how much they’ve already made off the backs of Arizona families.”