Lawmakers Profit From Investments, Books
Thursday, June 14, 2007; 8:12 PM
WASHINGTON -- The political fortunes of new congressional leaders Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid soared last year, and financial disclosure forms revealed Thursday they're also doing well in personal money matters.
New House Speaker Pelosi, through her investor husband, holds stocks and property worth well into the millions. Senate Majority Leader Reid, a gold miner's son, reported property around his hometown of Searchlight, Nev., as well as investments valued at several million dollars.
They are hardly the richest members of Congress. Sen. Edward Kennedy D-Mass., reported four Kennedy family trust funds worth $20 million to $100 million.
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., heir to his family's oil fortune, has three blind trusts worth more than $80 million.
Sen. Herbert Kohl, D-Wis., listed numerous investments, including stock in the Milwaukee Bucks valued at more than $50 million, the highest category on the forms. Kohl owns the professional basketball team, which Forbes magazine valued at $260 million this year.
The Republican leaders also reported healthy incomes and assets.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, said he held property in the District of Columbia worth $1 million-$5 million. But a large portion of the family assets is held by his wife, Labor Secretary Elaine Chao. She had investments, mostly in index and mutual funds, totaling between roughly $850,000 and $1.9 million, plus retirement accounts valued at between $265,000 and $600,000.
House GOP leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, reported assets of $1 million to $5 million in the retirement plan of a plastics company he previously headed. than $80 million.
The annual disclosure forms, while not exact, give a glimpse of the financial activities of lawmakers beyond their basic salaries. Last year rank-and-file members received $165,200 while minority leaders, the positions Pelosi and Reid held last year, got $183,500. The House Speaker and Senate Majority Leader had salaries of $212,100.
The forms don't often tell much about the legal or financial problems some members face. Rep. William Jefferson, D-La., facing a 16-count indictment on charges he received more than $500,000 in bribes, said his major sources of unearned income were rent from two tracts of land on Lake Providence in Louisiana, worth less than $7,500. He reported $56,250 in gifts to his legal defense trust fund.
Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., who is running for president, reported that her husband, former President Clinton, made more than $10 million for giving speeches last year. The couple held two accounts _ a regular bank account and a blind trust, each valued at between $5 million and $25 million. The forms don't require Congress members to report exact figures, only to note the ranges their holdings fall within.
Not everyone in Congress is rich. Rep. Dave Obey, D-Wis., and Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., the two Appropriations Committee chairmen who are in charge of annual budgets worth almost $1 trillion, reported among the most simple personal budgets. The 89-year-old Byrd listed among his major assets a $100,000-$200,000 retirement account, while Obey claimed two IRAs totaling less than $115,000.