Rep. Richie Rich (Retired): Lawmakers' Net Worths Are Way Above Median
Among the many retiring lawmakers, there's a high concentration of millionaires.
Many of the nearly four dozen lawmakers set to leave Congress at year's end are wealthy, boasting cushy bank accounts, stock portfolios, and property that include pro sports teams, race horses, and other glitzy holdings, according to their 2011 personal financial disclosures.
But not all soon-to-be departing members are quite so well off, according to the annual House and Senate filings released publicly on Thursday.
Some of the 44 outgoing House and Senate members -- a number that does not include those leaving to pursue another office or who resigned -- face high credit-card debt, large student-loan balances, and even multiple jumbo mortgages, as they brace for retirement either on their own terms or as the result of primary defeats or because of redistricting.
For instance, Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, defeated in last month's primary, will head back to El Paso without much more than his congressional pension. The total value of the assets he reports is only between $2,000 and $30,000. He still owes between $50,000 and $100,000 on a mortgage on his primary residence.
Rep. Charles Gonzalez, D-Texas, reported assets valued at between $166,000 and $416,000. But he also listed credit-card debt of between $15,000 and $50,000. He also is cosigner on two separate student loans, listing the liability on one of between $100,000 and $250,000 and between $10,000 and $15,000 on the other.
And Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, retires after eight terms, potentially in debt. The one-time presidential candidate owed between $315,000 and $650,000 on mortgage-related debts but is only worth between $250,000 and $516,000. He has two home-equity loans on which he owed between $50,000 and $100,000 and $15,000 and $50,000, respectively. He also owed between $250,000 and $500,000 on a refinance of his Washington home. Now that he is leaving Congress, perhaps he and his animal-advocate wife will decamp for the United Kingdom, where she inherited an apartment worth between $250,000 and $500,000 last year.*
Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., will leave relatively poor for a senator. Kyl reported assets worth between $467,000 and $1.08 million. Kyl's reported liabilities, two mortgages and a home-equity loan, were worth from $510,000 to more than $1 million.
Meanwhile, Rep. Don Manzullo of Illinois, who will leave Congress with a score of service under his belt, lost his state's March GOP primary to freshman Rep. Adam Kinzinger, but at least heads home with a decent amount of assets. He reported being worth between $570,000 and $1.3 million. He reported a mortgage with a balance of between $100,000 and $250,000 as well as two college loans adding up to between $20,000 and $30,000. His report did not clarify if the student-loan debt remains from his 1970 graduation from Marquette University law school or is for one of his three children.
And after completing his 30th year of service, Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., will head back to Indianapolis essentially a millionaire. He reported assets of between $950,000 and $1.6 million, which could buy a lot of pumpkins or watermelons. (He infamously acted out what he believed was the murder of White House deputy counsel Vince Foster in his backyard during the Clinton administration by shooting one or the other, but reports of which one he used have varied). Burton also reported owing between $350,000 and $750,000 on two mortgages.
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Outgoing members who sought and were granted filing-deadline extensions are House Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier, R-Calif.; Reps. Steve Austria, R-Ohio, Dan Boren, D-Okla., Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y., Heath Shuler, D-N.C., and Jerry Lewis, R-Calif.; and Sens. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., and Jim Webb, D-Va.
Because of the rules members of Congress wrote for themselves, pinning down specific values on their assets and liabilities is difficult. Lawmakers are required to report most information in only broad dollar-amount ranges. The 2011 reports contain, for the first time, information on values of mortgages on personal homes, but only similarly in broad ranges. The reports can be found online.
Democratic Sen. Herb Kohl of Wisconsin -- a businessman who's been one of the wealthiest lawmakers on Capitol Hill and the owner of the NBA's Milwaukee Bucks during his almost 24-year tenure -- reported his minimum worth as $151 million. In his retirement, he is expected to continue operating the Bucks.
Among his many other holdings are a ranch in Wyoming and a horse-breeding operation. But he is not the only member of Congress involved in horses. Rep. Dennis Cardoza, D-Calif., reported his worth as at least $1.6 million, some of it tied to his one-half interest in Cardoberg Stables and a number of horses, including a racehorse named Unanimous Consent. Cardoza also reported three mortgages, the balances amounting to between $765,000 and $1.5 million.
Running in a redrawn district, Rep. Jean Schmidt, R-Ohio, lost her bid for the GOP nomination for her Cincinnati-based seat to Iraq War veteran Brad Wenstrup in March. But when the 112th Congress adjourns and her tenure is up, she will not be done with politics. She still owes between $515,000 and $1.5 million to lawyers for fees incurred fighting ethics charges. That potentially eclipses her net worth, which she reported as between $487,000 and $1.6 million.
Rep. Steven Rothman, who earlier this month lost his member-vs.-member matchup with fellow Democratic Rep. Bill Pascrell, can head back to New Jersey with the consolation prize that he can fall back on his part-time role as landlord. He's a partial owner of 16 rental properties in the Garden State, most in Hackensack, the heart of his district. He reported his worth as between $1.4 million and $3.9 million. He reported no liabilities.
Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., reported assets worth between $1.5 million and nearly $2.5 million. He listed a mortgage in Florence, S.C. worth between $500,000 and $1 million. He listed a check overdraft worth between $10,000 and $15,000 as well as a credit line with $10,000-$15,000 in debt.
Among other soon-to-retire lawmakers, Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, reported assets of between $630,000 to about $1.3 million, with no liabilities; Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, showed assets of between $9.3 to $18.2 million, with mortgage liabilities on homes in Maine and Florida of between $550,000 and $1.1 million.
Rep. Sue Myrick, R-N.C., reported assets of between $135,000 and $360,000, and liabilities of between $230,000 and $550,000, all in mortgage-related debt, including a $15,000 to $50,000 home-equity loan; Rep. Jason Altmire, D-Pa., showed assets of between $148,000 and $395,000 with no reported liabilities.
House Appropriations ranking Democrat Norm Dicks of Washington reported between $316,000 and $665,000 in assets, but held debt through several mortgages that totaled between $950,000 and $2 million.
Sen. Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., reported assets totaling anywhere between $950,000 and $2.9 million, including a certificate of deposit at the FirstBank of Puerto Rico worth from $15,001 to $50,000. He had liabilities totaling anywhere between $350,000 and $750,000. Both of his liabilities were mortgages on his personal residence in Fairfax, Va. that were refinanced in 2010.
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, reported assets worth between $3.6 million and $10 million. Some of her largest assets were stocks, including between $250,000 and $500,000 in Exxon Mobil stock. She also reported owning between $100,000 and $250,000 in Merck, Microsoft, and PepsiCo stock, among other stocks and mutual funds. No liabilities were listed.
* An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported on the finanical position of Rep. Dennis Kucinich. His wife inherited the apartment in the United Kingdom last year.