Local News

Helms Says He Doesnt Know Where Wifes Property Is

Posted October 11, 1996 12:00 a.m. EDT

— U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms says he knows little about the rental properties that generate a large amount of money for his family because he says his wife handles most of those assets. He says questions about that property are not new.

The North Carolina Democratic Party brought up the "slumlord" dispute Thursday, saying the amount of money generated by the property is much higher than Helms' tax forms reveal, and that there were other discrepancies in his written reports as well.

Tax records show that the property is in some of Raleigh's poorest neighborhoods, six of the units have no heat and seven of the homes are valued at less than $41,000.

``They need to condemn them. They put pictures on the wall. You move them and there are holes,'' said Billy Wayne Wise, who lives in a duplex in downtown Raleigh owned by Dorothy Helms.

While some tenants say they are very pleased with their rental homes, others, Wise included, say they have been asking for years for repairs or updating. Some say they have to heat with space heaters or even their kitchen stoves. Others say their plumbing doesn't work.

Helms' financial disclosure form to the Senate shows Mrs. Helms owns nine rental properties worth between $250,000 and $500,000. But county tax records show the Helmses own 15 rental properties in Wake County with an assessed tax value of $1,071,610.

Most of them are listed under Mrs. Helms' name. Two are listed jointly. One is listed under Helms' name.

Helms downplayed both the inaccurate report and the state of the properties listed under his wife's name in comments to reporters


James Harrington, who has lived in a Helms' home in south Raleigh for almost 30 years, said that wasn't true. Space heaters and kerosene keep him warm in the winter, he said.

Harrington lives next door to a duplex also owned by Mrs. Helms.

Helms' aides said Mrs. Helms inherited her real estate holdings from her father, Jacob Coble, a Raleigh businessman who died in 1962. But county rental records show that only four of the 15 rental properties were inherited or received from Coble.