By Jonathan E. Kaplan - 06/16/05 12:00 AM EDT
Lawmakers do not confine their investment portfolios to blue-chip stocks and municipal bonds. In fact, they seem to discern opportunities in a wide variety of vehicles.
They plunk their savings down on vacation houses in foreign countries, foreign banks or farmland in out-of-the-way locales. Others buy recreational vehicles, and some sell farm equipment.
Here are a few samples of their holdings, gifts, earnings and other financial transactions:
• Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) bought a one-quarter share of 69 acres of land in Plano, Ill., worth between $250,001 and $500,000.
• Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) assets include a vineyard in St. Helena, Calif., worth up to $25 million. She has other properties in California as well.
• Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) owns a coffee shop and a home in Branson, Mo.
• House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), who is an heir to considerable wealth and won $250,000 on a lottery ticket several years ago, released a 402-page report detailing the value of everything he owns from equities to clothes and furniture. He owns three homes, in Virginia and Wisconsin (worth about $2 million), two Cadillacs and two Buicks, a 17-foot Boston whaler and 20-foot pontoon boat. All told, he is worth $10.4 million and paid $97,307 in federal taxes.
• Rep. Charles Taylor (R-N.C.), who owns millions in property around Asheville, N.C., paid between $1 million and $5 million for the Ivanovo Bank in Russia.
• Rep. Jerry Weller (R-Ill.), who purchased property in Nicaragua in 2003, bought a second lot in April 2004. Weller married Zury Rios Sosa, daughter of a Guatemalan general and dictator who has been accused of running death squads during the civil war in the 1980s.
• Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) owns farmland in Pantego, N.C.
• Rep. Marilyn Musgrave sold a bale-wagon farm machine for $15,000 and $50,000.
• Rep. Cathy McMorris (R-Wash.) owes at least $15,000 in student loans.
• Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) paid himself $21,000 from his campaign fund while running for Congress; Rep. Stephanie Herseth (D-S.D.) paid herself $15,000. She also owns livestock.
• Rep. Thelma Drake (R-Va.) is a mini-Donald Trump. She owns 11 rental properties as part Ocean View Enterprises, where she is the vice president.
• Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (D-Md.) reported at least $50,000 in “precious metals” and gave away 80 acres and a home in Michigan (valued at least at $50,000) as a gift.
• Rep. John Salazar (D-Colo.) bought 1,187 acres of farmland, worth at least $1 million. He also spent $50,000 on 40 acres of land and is the director of a potato-seed marketing company, Spudseed.com.
• Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.) has a 50 percent interest in a farm in Dinuba, Calif., worth at least $250,000.
• Hastert pays his chief of staff, Scott Palmer, $11,857.44 from both his campaign committee and his Keep Our Majority PAC on top of Palmer’s $148,500 congressional salary. Brian Gaston, Blunt’s chief of staff, took out a $15,000 loan to buy a BMW 525i.
• While lawmakers are banned from earning outside income, they can do so if they get a waiver from the ethics committee. Rep. Curt Weldon (R-Pa.), for example, earned $20,000 for teaching at Drexel University.
• The controversy over privately funded travel has not deterred lawmakers. Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) accepted a trip paid for by the Nation of Islam. Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) flew to Los Angeles to be a guest on comedian Bill Maher’s show. HBO paid for the flight.