Democratic Contender Finances

12.12.07 | 3 Comments

With the primaries coming up and selection time at hand, I thought it would be instructive to get a glimpse into the candidates personal finances. They’ve all filed disclosures with the Federal Elections Commission and the data this entry is based on those public disclosures. The only “funny” thing about it is, candidates are not forced to specify numbers, only select ranges for asset, liability, and income classes. When a number was not specified by the candidate, the mid-point of the class was chosen. Some of the classes are quite broad, particularly when the ranges increase to amounts over $100,000. So the data below are best presented as informed estimates of the candidates net worth and most recently reported income through the FEC disclosure process.

Part I, the Democratic Contenders – Part II, the Republican Contenders

Senator Joe Biden
Senator Joe Biden, 2008 Presidential Candidate

According to the disclosure documents, Biden is the least affluent of the contenders clocking in with a net worth of $93,000 and income of $201,000 per year. One has to wonder what un-reported, or under-reported assets exist for the candidate. This information comes straight from the FEC filing document with numbers at the mid-point.

Estimated Net Worth: $93,000
Estimated 2006 Income: $201,000


Senator Mike Gravel
Senator Mike Gravel, 2008 Presidential Candidate

Gravel has amassed 2.5x the wealth of Senator Biden, and his reported income is substantially higher. Still, the disclosures seem a bit on the light side prompting the question: what has been unreported or under-reported. Data source, FEC filing with numbers at mid-point.

Estimated Net Worth: $250,000
Estimated 2006 Income: $387,000


Representative Dennis Kucinich
Representative Dennis Kucinich, 2008 Presidential Candidate

While Kucinich ranks 3rd most affluent according to the disclosures, a significant portion of his reported assets exist in a single private company. The value of this company and Mr. Kucinich’s share are likely unknowable. In terms of real, reported, tangible assets, Mr. Kucinich is the least affulent of the contenders by far. As with Biden and Gravel, it leads one to wonder about unreported and/or under-reported assets.

Estimated Net Worth: $300,000
Estimated 2006 Income: $240,000


Senator Barack Obama
Senator Senator Barack Obama, 2008 Presidential Candidate

Obama’s filing has been highly scrutinized and widely reported, so there’s a lot more confidence that the numbers reported are accurate. He’s clearly in the process of making money as well as a name for himself in the political sphere.

Estimated Net Worth: $1,300,000
Estimated 2006 Income: $991,000


Senator Chris Dodd
Senator Chris Dodd, 2008 Presidential Candidate

Dodd has amassed over $2M in net worth and has managed to nearly double his Senator’s income of $165,200 per year. Though his disclosure hasn’t received the scrutiny of some of the other candidates, it is believed to be generally accurate and complete.

Estimated Net Worth: $2,400,000
Estimated 2006 Income: $303,000


Governor Bill Richardson
Governor Bill Richardson, 2008 Presidential Candidate

Richardson’s wealth was the real surprise to me in wading through these documents. Not that he shouldn’t have it, but he doesn’t present himself publicly in such a way that one would suspect the size of his personal fortune. He has tripled his Governor’s salary and his investments are diversified.

Estimated Net Worth: $6,600,000
Estimated 2006 Income: $452,000


Senator Hillary Clinton
Senator Hillary Clinton, 2008 Presidential Candidate

Few candidates have survived the scrutiny that Hillary Clinton has endured, first during her husband’s Presidential campaigns, then during her subsequent Senatorial campaigns, and now with her own Presidential bid. Make no mistake about it, the Clinton household has thrived in the time since the White House days with former President Clinton pulling in $200,000 a speaking engagement (this generated most of their reported income.) The last 15 years has seriously increased the Clinton’s wealth.

Estimated Net Worth: $35,000,000
Estimated 2006 Income: $12,000,000


John Edwards
John Edwards, 2008 Presidential Candidate

Edwards may have the most net worth of the Democratic contenders, but he’s also got the most problematic types of issues attached to his sources of wealth. He initially amassed his fortune as a personal injury lawyer winning many prominent settlements. Since his retirement from the Senate in 2005, he has been a principal with Fortress Investment group, further increasing his wealth. Fortress has ties to the whole sub-prime lending fiasco and this could become a serious liability in the campaign.

Estimated Net Worth: $55,000,000
Estimated 2006 Income: $3,000,000

I hope this has been an interesting article, I’ll give the same treatment to the Republican contenders in the near future and then perhaps a comparison and contrast to finish the series.