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Stabenow likewise dropped a $15,000 revolving line of credit from a Lansing, Mich.-based credit union, which brings her reported net worth to $0. She reports no assets and no liabilities.
It is possible that both Senators are worth significantly more, however.
While lawmakers are required to disclose their personal finances annually, the forms allow Senators to report their assets and liabilities in wide ranges, providing a sometimes imprecise summary of each lawmaker’s fiscal state.
The financial disclosure process also shields certain assets from public view, including primary or secondary residences that do not produce income, as well as artwork, antiques or other collectibles not held for investment purposes. Payments from federal retirement accounts and Social Security also are exempt from the reporting requirements.
Such exemptions likely account for the more than 43 percent drop in wealth Sen. Amy Klobuchar reported in 2009.
The Minnesota Democrat, who claimed about $300,000 in 2008, reported transferring assets from four private 401(k) retirement accounts to the government’s Thrift Savings Plan, which Senators are not required to report.
As Roll Call reported in its 50 Richest Members of Congress survey in September, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) remains the wealthiest lawmaker, with $188.37 million. Another 21 Senators also are among the richest Members.
Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) ranks as the poorest Member of Congress in 2009, despite the fact that he likely is among the richest.
Like most lawmakers, Kohl uses only the broad reporting categories required in the financial disclosure forms to provide information on his finances. Those forms limit the greatest minimum value of an asset to “over $50 million.”
On the forms, Kohl places the value of his NBA franchise, the Milwaukee Bucks, in the more than $50 million category. Forbes estimated in December that the team is worth $254 million.
But with the NBA franchise contributing only $50 million to Kohl’s wealth, according to the form, and liabilities related to the team counted elsewhere at $115 million, Kohl’s minimum net worth on financial disclosures settles at negative $4.64 million.