Millionaires Ready to Exit

Posted June 14, 2004 at 6:44pm

The Senate will lose a few of its millionaires at the end of 2004, when several longtime lawmakers retire from Congress.

Among the wealthiest retirees is Florida Sen. Bob Graham (D), who is worth between $7 million and $30 million, according to his latest financial disclosure form. Last year he was the 37th richest Member of Congress.

Graham, sometimes mentioned as a potential vice presidential pick for Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), made much of his fortune from joint real-estate ventures with his father, such as developing the town of Miami Lakes, Fla.

While Graham lists diverse stock holdings, mostly in his wife’s name, the vast majority of the couple’s wealth is still tied up in real estate, land development and a golf resort all under the name of The Graham Companies.

Retiring Colorado Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R) will leave the Senate with between $4 million and $10 million in assets, according to his 2003 financial disclosure form. The bulk of his wealth is in real estate investments, cattle sales and a jewelry production company, which brought in $127,843 last year.

Also leaving Capitol Hill is one-term Illinois Sen. Peter Fitzgerald (R), who ranked 13th in Congress in Roll Call’s annual survey of the richest Members of Congress last fall.

While the Illinois banking heir made a bundle when his father’s Suburban Banking Corp. was purchased by the Bank of Montreal in 1991, Fitzgerald has sold off chunks of his Bank of Montreal holdings in recent years, in part to pay off large campaign debts from his self-financed Senate bid in 1998.

His new disclosure form shows assets worth between $1.46 million and $3.2 million.

In 2003, Fitzgerald sold on five separate occasions bank stock worth a combined $3 million to $12 million. Last April, he purchased a 5.2-acre parcel of residential property in McLean, Va., for between $1 million and $5 million.

Fitzgerald is not the only Senator still smarting from the costs of a campaign.

Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), once estimated to be worth as much as $40 million while serving as an executive for RealNetworks during the tech boom of the 1990s, reported only between $1 million and $5 million worth of stock in the company by the end of 2003.

She cashed in several million dollars of that stock to pay for her 1998 Senate bid, and she is still paying down debts from that campaign.

While Members are bound by a ban on receiving honoraria, Senate spouses continued to rake in big money for speaking engagements, the newly filed disclosure forms confirmed.

Former President Bill Clinton earned more than $4.3 million last year delivering speeches across the globe to everyone from the Caribbean Council for Global Studies in Puerto Rico to the Antwerp Diamond High Council in Belgium, according to the financial-disclosure forms of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.).

The former president’s speaking fees ranged from $100,000 for a speech to Financial Innovations Inc. in St. Lucia to $500,000 for a speech — later canceled — that had been scheduled in Japan by the Sakura Capital Management Company. (Proceeds of the half-million-dollar talk that wasn’t were reported because they were donated to the William J. Clinton Presidential Library Foundation.)

Nonetheless, the former president’s speaking fees seem to have landed the couple in good stead, allowing the former first couple, by the end of the year, to fully pay off two massive legal debts that had totaled between $1.1 million and $5.25 million. Apparently, only one legal bill — to the firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, totaling between $500,000 and $1 million — remains.

Hadassah Lieberman, wife of one-time presidential hopeful Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.), earned a total of $80,000 in speaking fees last year, mostly from various Jewish organizations and colleges.

While the exact total is unclear, former Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kan.) appeared to stay busy with dozens of speaking gigs and consulting agreements last year.

The financial disclosure forms for Dole’s wife, Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.), do not list any specific payment amounts, but they do offer a recounting of dozens of cross-country speaking engagements, from Ford’s Customer Service center in Greenbrier, W.Va., to Johnson & Johnson in Amelia Island, Fla.

Dole, who now works for the law firm Alston & Bird, also earned consulting fees from corporations ranging from the Recording Industry of America and Archer Daniels Midland to American Share Insurance in Dublin, Ohio. Another paying client was Pfizer, the maker of Viagra, for which Dole has cut television commercials.

Within the ranks of the Senate leadership, the former Wall Street tycoon turned Democratic Sen. Jon Corzine (N.J.), is the wealthiest on either side of the aisle, with a net worth of upwards of $250 million. Corzine, chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, amassed his fortune as the former co-chairman and CEO of the investment bank Goldman Sachs. He remains heavily invested in that company. The New Jersey Democrat also has a stake in a bicycle shop in Chicago, a mobile home community in Denver, residential apartments Houston and undeveloped land in Atlanta.

Among Republicans, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), plus his wife and dependent children, are worth between $11 million and $41 million. Frist, a heart surgeon, maintains a wide-ranging portfolio that includes health care stocks, landholdings and investments in the fast food company Wendy’s International and the doughnut chain Krispy Kreme.

Sen. Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) has a relatively modest portfolio with investments totaling between $195,000 and $680,000. But that figure does not take into account his wife’s salary. Linda Daschle, an influential lobbyist for the K Street firm Baker, Donelson, Bearman and Caldwell, reported a salary of $1,000. If spouses earn more than $1,000 per year, they are not required to disclose exact levels.

Daschle’s top deputy, Senate Minority Whip Harry Reid (D-Nev.), is worth between $1.9 million and $6.8 million, with investments in companies ranging from Anheuser Busch to retailers Target and Wal-Mart. Reid also owns several parcels of land throughout Nevada as well as a plot in Bullhead City, Ariz., that’s worth between $500,001 and $1 million.

Reid’s counterpart, Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), is worth between $1.9 million and $4.3 million. A majority of McConnell’s assets, however, are identified as those of his wife, Labor Secretary Elaine Chao. These include a house that has a rented carriage house.

Corzine’s counterpart, National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman George Allen (R-Va.), is worth between $515,000 and a little more than $1 million. Allen’s portfolio includes a mixture of bonds and stocks ranging from U.S. Treasury Bonds to financial interests in tech manufacturers Gateway and Motorola.

The financial disclosure reports not only offer the public a snapshot of lawmakers’ finances but also divulge other projects they may be working on. For example, Senate Republican Conference Chairman Rick Santorum (Pa.) is writing a book with the working title “It Takes A Family,” which appears to be a slap at “It Takes A Village,” a book published several years ago by Sen. Clinton. Santorum received a $10,000 advance from ISI Books — the publishing arm of the conservative Intercollegiate Studies Institute. The book, which will focus on the role of the family in America, is due to be published early next year.

Senate Republican Vice Chairwoman Kay Bailey Hutchison (Texas) is also penning a book with the working title “American Heroines: the Spirited Women Who Shaped Our Country.” The publisher HarperCollins has so far paid Hutchison $33,333 for the book, in which the Senator will highlight the accomplishments of “barrier-breaking women” representing all walks of life. Hutchison has already interviewed Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor; former New York Rep. Geraldine Ferraro, the Democratic vice presidential nominee in 1984; and multiple Olympic medal winner Jackie Joyner-Kersee.

Daschle’s financial disclosure report also revealed that he donated $449,021 — the net profits from a book he published last year — to charity.

Several other Senators also tried to make a name for themselves — or a buck — by publishing books.

Democratic presidential hopeful Kerry earned $89,200 in book royalties from Viking Penguin Inc. in New York for “A Call to Service: My Vision for a Better America.”

Former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.), who is reported to be working on his own memoirs, received a $53,125 book advance from Sterling Lord Literistic Inc. last year, his filing revealed.

Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) reported earning a $40,000 advance from W.W Norton & Co. for his upcoming book, “Losing America: Confronting a Reckless and Arrogant Presidency.” Byrd’s stinging indictment of the Bush administration is due out next month and, according to his disclosure form, the Senator will receive from 10 percent to 15 percent royalty payments on the sale of the book.

Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), meanwhile, disclosed an agreement with Guild Press to write a book “on fatherhood,” all the proceeds of which will be donated to charity.