Revealing More Than Dollars and Cents
Thursday, March 1, 2007
Elaine N. McConnell and Michael R. Frey are both Republicans. Both sit on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. When it comes to what's in their wallets, however, the similarities end.
McConnell (R-Springfield) and her husband, Warren, a retired FBI agent, own and operate four preschools, three in Fairfax County and one in Ponte Vedra, Fla. In addition to their five-bedroom, $1.3 million Springfield home, they own a 240-acre ranch, an antique business and other real estate in Page County, Va., according to her recently filed financial disclosure form.
Frey (R-Sully), who is single, lives on his $59,000 annual supervisor's salary (which will rise to $75,000 if he is reelected in the fall) and lists no holdings beyond the Centreville townhouse he purchased in 1985 for $92,000, according to his financial disclosure form and county real estate records.
Frey's characterization of his personal worth: "Not a pot to pee in."
These disparate portraits come largely from the Statement of Economic Interests that each board member is required by the state to update annually. Although the forms do not supply a wealth of information -- in many ways they are designed to be as unrevealing as possible -- they do provide, in tandem with other public records, a window into the supervisors' personal finances.
Supervisor Linda Q. Smyth (D-Providence) and her husband, lawyer Nigel S. Smyth, hold a portfolio of stocks and mutual funds with an estimated value between $730,000 and more than $1.6 million. (Board members are not required to state exact amounts.)
Their holdings include more than $250,000 each in Choice Hotels International, the 5,300-hotel chain that includes Comfort Inn and Econo Lodge; and HCR Manor Care Inc., which operates more than 500 rehabilitation, assisted-living and hospice centers across the country, including several in Fairfax County.
Smyth also reported more than $250,000 in gross income from the settlement of the estate of her mother-in-law, Pamela Smyth. Through her father-in-law, she also owns one-twelfth interest in a Baileys Crossroads shopping strip leased to Value City furniture store and other commercial tenants.
Some supervisors point to their spouses when it comes to the ownership of certain private investments. Supervisor Catherine Hudgins (D-Hunter Mill) listed up to $50,000 of stock in Altria Group Inc., the parent company of Philip Morris USA. She said her husband, lawyer Willie L. Hudgins Jr., chose to make that investment.
"I put my money into social causes," she said.
A seat on the Board of Supervisors is widely regarded as a full-time job. But the $59,000 salary means that most board members are subsidized, to one degree or another, by working spouses. Smyth and Hudgins are married to lawyers in private practice. The husband of Supervisor Sharon Bulova (D-Braddock), Louis DeFalaise, heads the U.S. Justice Department's office of attorney recruitment and management. Joseph DuBois, the husband of Supervisor Joan M. DuBois (R-Dranesville), is a senior official at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The wife of Supervisor T. Dana Kauffman's (D-Lee), Kathy Butcher Kauffman, writes software for EMC, a large information technology company.
Other board members, like McConnell, have outside sources of income. Supervisor Gerald W. Hyland (D-Mount Vernon) reported up to $100,000 in income from his 35-acre soybean and corn farm in Accomack County on Virginia's eastern shore and his Alexandria law firm, Hyland & Hyland. Supervisor Penelope A. Gross (D-Mason), a former Capitol Hill staff member, spends several hours a month working as recording secretary for the U.S. Senate Federal Credit Union and receives rental income from a beachfront home in Avon, N.C., on the Outer Banks.