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  Bush's Cabinet Mostly Millionaires

By Jonathan D. Salant
Associated Press Writer
Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2001; 2:23 p.m. EST

WASHINGTON –– In the quarter-century between his stints as defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld amassed a multimillion-dollar portfolio and served on the boards of several top companies, his financial disclosure report showed Monday.

Like Vice President Dick Cheney, Rumsfeld amassed a fortune in the private sector after leaving the government. His last government position was as President Ford's secretary of defense from 1975 to 1977.

Rumsfeld is among several multimillionaires serving in President Bush's Cabinet, according to financial disclosure reports released by the Office of Government Ethics.

Most of Bush's nominees are wealthy, all with a net worth in at least six figures. Many hold stock in companies affected by federal actions.

For instance, Commerce Secretary Donald Evans held stock options in Tom Brown Inc., the oil and gas exploration company he headed, valued at between $5 million and $25 million. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, former chief executive officer of Alcoa Inc., holds between $5 million and $25 million of Alcoa stock options, plus another $1 million to $5 million in deferred compensation from his former employer. And Attorney General-designate John Ashcroft owns more than $1 million in real estate.

"Ordinary folks can't afford to come to Washington and work in government, and so we get the well-heeled instead," said Charles Lewis, executive director of the watchdog Center for Public Integrity. "There is a legitimate question about how sensitive and how acutely aware you can be when you're a millionaire in dealing with everyday issues like prescription drugs and Social Security payments."

Responded White House spokesman Scott McClellan: "President Bush nominates strong, capable people of integrity, who are proven leaders with diverse experience. They are committed to serving the people, doing what is right for America and adhering to the highest standards."

Rumsfeld's 94-page financial disclosure form shows that his holdings include between $6 million and $30 million in Gilead Sciences, a pharmaceutical company, plus $1 million to $5 million in vested stock options. He served as chairman of the board of Gilead from January 1997 until he joined the Bush administration.

Rumsfeld owns 35 acres of farmland in New Mexico valued at between $1 million and $5 million and two other pieces of property in the state, each valued at between $1 million and $5 million. He has two money market funds, each worth between $1 million and $5 million.

He has served on the boards of Allstate, Amylin Pharmaceuticals, Gulfstream Aerospace and Kellogg, as well as the Swiss company Asea Brown Boveri. He has $50,000 to $100,000 in vested stock options in Tribune Co., where he served as a director, and $415,982 in a deferred compensation plan at Sears, where he also was a director.

Many other members of Bush's Cabinet as well as other top administration officials also have extensive holdings. A sampling:

–Ashcroft owns a $500,000 house in Washington, a $250,000 lake house and a $450,000 farm. He owns $4,230 worth of AT&T stock and $40,270 worth of a health care mutual fund.

–Evans' other holdings include a money market account worth between $1 million and $5 million and stock valued at between $50,000 and $100,000 in Halliburton Co., which Cheney ran before becoming Bush's running mate; and in Cisco Systems and in Microsoft Corp.

–Education Secretary Rod Paige had most of his money in mutual and bond funds. He left with $100,000 to $250,000 in accumulated vacation pay from the Houston school district, where he was superintendent. He also had between $250,000 and $500,000 in a retirement fund at Texas Southern University, where he had been a professor.

–Health and Human Services Secretary-designate Tommy Thompson holds between $15,000 and $50,000 in stock in AOL Time Warner and General Electric. He holds a share of a Wisconsin real estate development valued at between $100,000 and $250,000, and a state pension valued at between $500,000 and $1 million.

He also holds between $15,000 and $50,000 worth of stock in Philip Morris, the tobacco and food giant, and between $1,000 and $15,000 worth of stock in two pharmaceutical companies, Merck & Co. and Abbott Laboratories. Thompson agreed to sell those stocks after federal ethics monitors warned that they could represent a conflict of interest.

–Housing and Urban Development Secretary-designate Mel Martinez held between $250,000 and $500,000 in Colonial BancGroup stock and another $250,000 to $500,000 in a mutual fund.

–O'Neill also has between $500,000 and $1 million of International Paper stock, $50,000 and $100,000 of General Motors stock. He also served on the boards of Lucent Technologies and Eastman Kodak.

–Veterans Affairs Secretary-designate Anthony Principi had between $250,000 and $500,000 in a money market fund and owned between $15,000 and $50,000 in Microsoft, Schering Plough, Ford and Qualcomm. His share of a family-owned real estate company was valued at between $500,000 and $1 million.

–Office of Management and Budget head Mitch Daniels held between $5 million and $25 million in Eli Lilly & Co., where he was senior vice president before joining the Bush administration. He also had vested stock options in Eli Lilly valued at between $5 million and $25 million. He reported stock holdings of between $50,000 and $100,000 in Citigroup, General Electric and Merck & Co.

–Environmental Protection Administrator-designate Christine Todd Whitman's holdings included a municipal bond portfolio valued at between $1 million and $5 million and a New Jersey farm valued at between $1 million and $5 million.

Earlier, Secretary of State Colin Powell reported at least $24.5 million in assets, and Interior Secretary-designate Gale Norton, Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman and Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham reported assets worth in the six figures.

"Of the 100 million Americans who don't vote, the overwhelming numbers are lower middle class or poor who think government doesn't represent them," Center for Public Integrity's Lewis said. "News like this doesn't exactly encourage them."

© Copyright 2001 The Associated Press

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