Lawmakers’ Personal Wealth Hit By Downturn
Most state legisaltors remain relatively wealthy, but many have taken major financial hits over the past year as the economy has tanked, Florida Trend magazine reported this week in a look at the personal wealth of the state's politicians.
Among the biggest hits to personal net worth reported on financial disclosure forms by state senators on a year-over-year basis was the 45 percent dropoff in the value of Sen. Mike Bennett's assets, and a 62 percent hit to retired Sen. Ken Pruitt's personal wealth – which led in part to his decision to leave the Legislature early.
In the House, Rep. Matt Hudson saw the value of his home plummet, like many other Floridians. A house Hudson, R-Naples, valued at just over $401,000 a year ago is now worth $230,000. Rep. Luis Garcia, D-Miami Beach, was a big victim of declining property values in South Florida, too. The value of his condo fell through the floor. Sen. Evelyn Lynn, R-Ormond Beach, saw the value of her condo drop from about $400,000 a year ago, to just under $250,000.
Everyone knows stocks took a hit this year too. Sen. Nan Rich, D-Weston, saw her portfolio of marketable securities go from $214,587 in 2008 to $130,632 this past year, Florida Trend reported.
Bennett, R-Bradenton, saw the value of his various property holdings drop by nearly $7 million – though his assets are still worth almost $9 million.
Rep. Rick Kriseman, D-St. Petersburg, saw his net worth drop after his house burned down, Florida Trend reported. But, the magazine noted, Kriseman's $40,000 wine collection survived. Still, Kriseman is down about $100,000 in net worth, according to the comparison of his disclosure with last year's.
Another victim of current events was House Democratic Leader Franklin Sands, D-Weston. But it wasn't the economy in general that hit Sands, but Bernie Madoff. Sands lost more than $3 million he had Madoff invest. Sands still lists property and investments worth more than $1 million as an asset on his disclosure, though he owes money on his home.
Florida Trend reported that Rep. Chris Dorworth was another who lost money in this tumultuous year. It wasn't entirely the bad economy in his case either, though. Dorworth, R-Lake Mary, was a partner in a project to build a new subdivision that had to be scuttled after arsenic contamination was found at the site. His $706,000 net worth is now 75 percent off what it was the year before, according to the report.
All this is not to say that state lawmakers have gone to the poor house.
Rep. Baxter Troutman, R-Winter Haven, a citrus grower, is the wealthiest legislator, according to the most recent financial disclosures. He listed assets of $39.6 million.
Two other lawmakers are worth more than $20 million: Rep. Carl Domino, R-Jupiter, has assets worth $23.7 million and Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, has assets valued at $21.9 million.
There were very few winners over the year. Only a handful of lawmakers reported a higher net worth than in 2008, and most simply because they reduced their debt. One whose holdings actually improved in value, the magazine reported, was Rep. Ron Reagan, R-Bradenton. His 40 percent stake in MGA Insurance grew in value, and though that was offset by losses in property value, Bradenton's overall net worth was up 13 percent.
The magazine also looked at the governor and Cabinet (which means looking at the two main candidates for governor.) Gov. Charlie Crist was actually buffered from the year's economic turmoil because he doesn't own any property. He listed his property as $466,063, up 2 percent over 2008.
Attorney General Bill McCollum, the leading Republican candidate for governor, has holdings of $1.2 million, but he lost $150,000 in the market.
Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, the leading Democratic contender for governor so far, saw her net worth drop by 15 percent to $8.6 million. A blind trust dropped in value by more than $1 million and her stocks and home dropped in value too.