ALPINE — Sen. Mike Lee was forced to sell his million-dollar Alpine home due to a series of events, including the housing crisis and being elected to Congress.

Lee bought the home in 2008 at the height of the housing boom when he was working as an attorney in private practice. But as home prices tumbled and he won office two years later, he could no longer manage the mortgage, said his spokesman Brian Phillips.

As a private attorney, Lee earned several hundred thousand dollars a year. His Senate salary is $174,500 annually.

Phillips said Lee knew that if he were elected to the Senate, he would have to put the house up for sale, which he did four or five months after taking office in January 2011. It later sold in a short sale for considerably less than what he paid.

"Sen. Lee did buy a house that he could afford," Phillips said, attributing the sale to a "bad series of events."

Those events also included the law firm where he worked, Howrey LLP, filing for bankruptcy. Phillips said the firm owes Lee about $100,000 and had he received that money, he could have staved off the house sale.

Lee did the "fiscally responsible thing" in putting the house up for sale, Phillips said.

The senator is renting a "modest" house in Alpine where his wife and three children live, he said.

Dennis Romboy Twitter: dennisromboy