While the majority status and chairman’s gavels may have changed hands, the “people’s” House is still run by millionaires.
House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Majority Eric I. Cantor (R-Va.) , the GOP leaders who rode to power on the grassroots wave of tea-party activists, are multi-millionaires with financial investments in some of the nation’s largest corporations.
Boehner had minimum financial holdings of $2 million at the end of 2010, while his top deputy was worth at least $3.4 million, according to financial disclosure forms that were released Wednesday. Their true net worth is likely to be far greater because lawmakers are only required to reveal a broad range of their financial holdings and the value of their primary residences is not mandatory in the disclosures. And, as is the case with Cantor’s wife, Diana, spouses are required to reveal the stocks and other assets they hold at the end of the year, not their annual income from the jobs they hold.
The forms, which all members of Congress had to file Wednesday unless specifically granted an extension, are designed to disclose the financial holdings of lawmakers in order to provide some transparency in their legislative maneuvering so voters can be aware of any potential conflict of interest.
The group who fueled the rise of House Republicans — those 87 GOP freshmen elected in last fall’s wave election — have a mixed record in terms of their own finances. At least 19 own assets worth more than $1 million, according to a Washington Post review of 2010 financial disclosure forms. However, after winning election on a platform of reigning in U.S. debt, at least 19 of those freshman listed personal liabilities in excess of $100,000.
The largest investments for Boehner, a former plastics executive from southwestern Ohio, come from mutual funds and a collection of individual retirement accounts. The speaker’s IRA is invested in a who’s who of Fortune 500 companies, ranging from WalMart (at least $15,000); Xerox ($15,000); Pfizer ($15,000); Goldman Sachs ($15,000), according to his forms.
Cantor, 48, is a former lawyer whose wife has become a financial powerhouse in Richmond, Va. Diana Cantor serves on the boards of Domino’s Pizza and Media General, the communications conglomerate that owns, among other media properties, the Richmond Times Dispatch. More than ten percent of the Cantor family holdings — totaling more than $350,000 — came from stock and stock options in those two companies, according to the whip’s disclosure forms.
The 2010 midterms, however, did not considerably alter the financial makeup of the House leadership. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), along with her husband, Paul, a San Francisco real-estate magnate and financial investor, were worth a minimum of $42 million at the end of 2010.
The Pelosi family holdings spread across property investments in northern California, including a Napa Valley vineyard worth at least $5 million, and a litany of Fortune 500 companies. However, some of Paul Pelosi’s financial holdings suffered significant losses in 2010, including Cisco Systems stock that was sold in May 2010 for a loss of between $100,000 and $1 million, as well as a similar loss on EBay holdings.
Nowhere, however, did the Pelosis feel the financial pinch quite as much as in what has become a personal pet project of Mr. Pelosi’s: the former California Redwoods.
Part of minor league known as the United Football League, the financially struggling team -- coached by former NFL legend Dennis Green -- moved last year from San Francisco to Sacramento, adopting the Mountain Lions as their nickname. Paul Pelosi has poured money into both the team and the league’s finances. He now holds a stake worth a minimum of $1 million in the UFL as well as another asset worth at least $5 million in his Mountain Lions. In 2010, Mr. Pelosi lost at least $1 million on the Lions. Throughout 2010, he pumped more than $1.8 million into the team’s finances.
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), the House Budget Committee chairman whose 2012 budget has dominated the congressional agenda recently, has practiced what he preaches in his personal finances in terms of shrinking the mounting federal debt. The 41-year-old is worth at least $1 million, much of it from his wife’s family holdings in an Oklahoma mining company and an Oklahoma gravel company. Ryan’s own investments include holdings in Apple (at least $1,000), Berkshire Hathaway ($1,000), Google ($1,000), McDonald’s ($1,000) and Phillip Morris ($1,000).
The parents of three young children, the Ryans have already invested more than $150,000 in college savings plans.
Among prominent congressional leaders, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) may have the smallest financial holdings. A former congressional staffer who then served in the California legislature, McCarthy, 46, is now the majority whip, the No. 3 position in House leadership. His 2010 disclosure forms show financial holdings of at least $114,000, mostly in mutual funds.
McCarthy, Cantor and Ryan formed a partnership — CMR, LLC. — in order to handle the finances of a book they co-published last fall, “Young Guns”. However, the three GOP leaders never saw any money from the book. The LLC shifted all royalty fees to the Fischer House, a foundation serving military veterans, according to aides.