Financial disclosures: Wall Street’s bull market in '09 lifted lawmakers’ net worth

Congressional leaders in both parties reported dramatic increases in their net worth last year on the back of a rising stock market.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) reported the biggest gain for 2009. The Speaker’s worth jumped by $9 million to roughly $21.7 million last year, according to financial disclosure statements released by the House clerk and the Senate secretary on Wednesday.

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House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) saw his wealth rise by about $1.4 million, to $2.4 million, in 2009 compared to his report for 2008.

The recovery by the stock market from the financial crisis appears to be the main reason for the increased net worth. The Dow Jones Industrial climbed nearly 4,000 points in 2009 after diving to 6,626 points on March 6, 2009, one of the greatest bull markets in history. For the calendar year, it gained more than 1,600 points in 2009.

The market has lost a bit of value since the beginning of 2010.

In 2008, many lawmakers saw their net worth plummet as stocks were ravaged by the financial crisis.

Some lawmakers also increased their net worth in 2009 by reducing liabilities.

For example, Pelosi reported a lower liability for a mortgage she holds on a California vineyard, listed as at least $1 million instead of at least $5 million the year before. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) paid off a loan to Harry Reid Ltd. worth at least $50,000.

Reid saw his net worth rise by $185,000, to $3 million, while Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) saw his net worth increase by almost $1 million to total $7.1 million.

The disclosure form for Reid also reveals the majority leader shared a jet flight to California with Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), one of the wealthiest members of Congress, after the Senate's Christmas Eve healthcare vote. Feinstein footed the $3,625 bill for the flight. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) was also aboard, according to her financial disclosure report. Her flight also cost Feinstein $3,625.

House Minority Leader John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) assets rose approximately $100,000, to $1.8 million. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) doubled his net worth to about $298,000 in 2009.

Financial disclosure statements for lawmakers do not provide exact dollar figures for the value of their assets and liabilities. Instead, they give ranges of dollar values. The Hill calculates lawmakers’ minimum net worth by adding up the lower estimates for those assets and then subtracting the lower estimates for lawmaker liabilities.

Wednesday was the deadline for both the House and Senate to release financial disclosure reports to the public, but dozens of lawmakers asked for extensions. Eighty-four House members asked for an extended deadline to file their financial disclosure report, while 14 senators still had not filed their statements.

The reports shed light on how lawmakers in both the House and Senate earn money outside of their day jobs on Capitol Hill. Several are landlords and collected rental income in 2009, according to the statements.

Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Calif.) listed rental income of at least $160,000 on six properties. He had mortgages on all six, totaling at least $1.3 million in value.

Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) rents out three condos in the Boston area. In 2009, the properties were worth at least $300,000 and the rent he earned from the condos was at least $25,000.

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Brown’s first financial disclosure report also offered a closer look into Brown’s life before he entered the Senate and became a national political star.

Brown held down three jobs last year that each earned him a separate salary, according to his financial disclosure statement. His private law office earned him a salary of $57,817. His state senator salary was $83,316. And his pay for service in the Massachusetts Army National Guard was $16,121.

Another new senator, Republican George LeMieux from Florida, showed substantial earnings from his previous career. In 2009, LeMieux pulled in a $755,218 salary as partner and chairman of the board for West Palm Beach, Fla., law firm Gunster Yoakley & Stewart while also earning $30,000 for business consulting at MTC Strategies, where he is the sole owner.

Other lawmakers saw income from book deals, earning advance payments and royalties for their work.

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) signed a book deal with New American Library in January 2009, according to his financial disclosure report. His co-author, former Washington Post deputy foreign editor Peter Eisner, received the $50,000 advance payment, and Menendez will be paid royalties through a percentage of the book’s sales receipts.

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) received the second half of a $42,500 advance relating to a book contract with Nashville-based B&H Publishers, according to his financial disclosure report. The publisher also reimbursed DeMint for six flights between February and September 2009.

Others in Congress were contending with lawyers’ fees in 2009.

Republican Don Young, Alaska’s lone representative, received $12,500 in gifts from three companies — Trident Seafood Corps., Bering Straits Native Corp. and Chugach Alaska Corp. — to pay for legal expenses he is incurring because of a federal investigation, according to his disclosure report.