Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) sold a 134-acre property to the religious group Answers in Genesis three years ago but failed to disclose the transaction as required by law.
The North Carolina conservative was to be paid about $200,000 in monthly installments for the land in Dinosaur, Colorado, but did not list the sale or payments, which would have ended last year, in his congressional financial disclosures, reported The New Yorker.
Meadows, a founding member of the extremely conservative Freedom Caucus, declined to comment on the sale or the incomplete financial disclosures.
The lawmaker had been a successful real estate developer before he was elected to Congress, and it appears he bought the fossil-rich Colorado land in hopes of finding dinosaur bones there.
That's exactly what Meadows claims his daughter, then 9 years old, found during a 2002 dig organized by Vision Forum Ministries.
“We were working towards the end of the day here, just trying to get one last bit of rock out before, you know, before we finished,” Meadows says in the documentary "Raising the Allosaur: The True Story of a Rare Dinosaur and the Home Schoolers Who Found It," when, “all of a sudden, we spotted a little bit of bone, we thought—and we found a claw.”
Vision Forum announced the claw had belonged to 100-foot Sauropod, and the religious organization claimed the findings -- which they said lay among leaves and plant debris -- proved the dinosaurs had been buried by a catastrophic event similar to Noah's flood.
However, multiple witnesses said the bones had been found two years earlier by a man who previously owned the property and excavated months later by another creationist fossil hunter.
The allosaur skull found on that property was later purchased by right-wing activist Michael Peroutka, who donated the skeletal remains five years ago to the Creation Museum operated by Answers in Genesis.
Two years after that, Answers in Genesis purchased the land where the skull was found from Meadows, who failed to list the property or its sale as required by the Ethics in Government Act.
“There appear to have been multiple reporting violations that occurred over a long period of time,” said attorney Brett Kappel, an expert on campaign finance and congressional ethics. “The fact that there had been an agreement to lease the property to fossil hunters, even if the rent was never paid, seriously undermines the argument that the property was not held for investment."