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Vice Presidential Hopefuls Include Wealthiest and Poorest Members of Congress

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Of the four lawmakers the presumptive GOP presidential nominee is said to be considering, Sen. Rob Portman is by far the wealthiest, recently filed personal financial disclosure forms show.

“While he’s among the least wealthy Senators, it’s not as if he has financial problems,” said the spokesman, Alex Conant. “His personal finances just have more in common with the people he serves than the people he serves with.”

Such considerations didn’t prevent President Barack Obama from picking then-Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.), who in 2008 reported a net worth of negative $106,000, according to Roll Call’s calculations. Obama’s most recent personal financial disclosure forms, released in May, show assets of at least $2 million. Biden reported a minimum net worth of just $64,000 with assets of at least $239,000 and at least $175,000 in liabilities. Both men reported home mortgages exceeding $500,000.

Romney is also said to be considering several Republican governors, including Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana. The Romney campaign did not return Roll Call’s request for comment.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the chairman of the House Budget Committee whose credibility with the conservative base makes him another possible vice presidential pick, has a minimum net worth of $1.9 million. Ryan holds a routine diversified portfolio, including modest positions in Apple, Altria, MasterCard, Amazon and Wells Fargo and tens of other firms. His only reported debt is a mortgage on his personal home of at least $250,000.

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), an early Romney backer who campaigned for him in Iowa and is also said to be on the short list, has a minimum net worth of $57,000. His assets of at least $157,000 are offset by at least $100,000 in home mortgages.

Lawmakers must report year-end values of bank accounts, stocks and rental properties but not of personal residences and federal retirement savings accounts. A lawmaker’s debts, including student loans, outstanding legal bills, credit card balances and mortgages on personal residences, are reported if they exceed $10,000 at any time during the year, even if they are paid off before the year ends.

A provision in the recently passed Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act requiring lawmakers to report mortgages on personal residences as liabilities — but not as assets — will likely cause the reported minimum net worth of many lawmakers to dip in this year’s batch of disclosure reports, even if they have repaid other debts.

Rubio, for example, had a minimum net worth of $224,000 in 2010, but thanks to the new requirement now appears to be in much greater debt.

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