Wednesday, 8 November 2006

Politicians with plenty of green... and red

Here is a list of the net worth from 2005 personal financial disclosure reports on members of Congress and the White House.

There is a point to be made that many on the top of this list are Democrats and some tilted to the left, but just because someone is rich does not make them bad. It is the self-serving wealthy elite, who only care about themselves and their family line, that are the 'bad' rich people. But, it is interesting data nonetheless.

Ranked number one is Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI) at somewhere between US$219,098,029 and $234,549,004. Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) is ranked sixth ($78,150,022 to $101,579,003), but comes from one of the richest families in the history of the world. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), ranked fourth ($165,741,511 to $235,262,100), is married to Teresa Heinz Kerry, who was previously the wife of the heir to the Heinz fortune, explaining his massive pocketbook. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is at eighth place ($62,090,106 to $199,687,011). Sen. John McCain is at 15, Vice President Dick Chaney is 18th, to-be Speaker of House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is 22nd. The federal politician (i.e. House, Senate, Executive) with the lowest net worth is Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL), who is in the red at somewhere between $2,129,005 and -$7,335,000, ranked 559/559. Former Majority Leader Tom DeLay is also in debt, ranked 557, and well-known Democrat Sen. Joe Biden Jr (Del.) is at 551st place.

Some of these numbers seem a bid off though; what exactly does the net worth include or not include in this PFD report?

By May 15 of each year, Congress members and top officials in the executive branch must file forms covering the preceding calendar year that list their assets and liabilities, their income (excluding their government salaries, oddly), asset transactions, gifts they received and more. They need not list property unless it produces income (so their primary residence is generally not listed), but they must include the source of their spouse's income.
I want to find more sources (mostly just for the fun and disgust of seeing how much money US politicians have... and this is not even their many, many millions of campaign money!). I also don't know what forms of monetary value (net worth) the people (Open Secrets) who compiled this used. Also:
It is difficult to gauge what a lawmaker is worth based on what they file, however, because the disclosure forms do not require exact values. Instead, the lawmaker reports the range of value into which an asset, for example, falls. As the values increase, the ranges get broader.

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In Perspective

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