Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Who Wants to be a Millionaire?

Financial disclosure forms filed by presidential candidates Wednesday show Barack Obama as the least wealthy of the top-tier presidential candidates, despite the fact that his family reported $991,000 in income last year.

It was an unusually high-flying year for the Obama family, however. $572,000 of the reported income was from Senator Obama's book sales, which surged as he gained national recognition for his leadership on issues like Iraq, alternative energy, health care, and the genocide in Darur.

The Chicago Tribue reported that Senator Obama's financial portfolio is divested of all companies that do business in Sudan.

While Obama obviously won't have to cut coupons to put food on the table, the Obama family fortune is downright meager when compared to the other candidates. Let's take a look, shall we?

  • John Edwards. $479,000 last year in salary. More than $7.5 million from investments with Fortress Investment Group, a New York hedge fund. Net worth is estimated between $22 and $62 million dollars. He said he worked only a few days a month at the hedge fund, so maybe he just didn't know that Fortress owned offshore funds that served as tax havens for investors. Maybe he didn't know that the firm's portfolio included subprime lenders, which provide high-risk loans that often target minorities. Maybe he just didn't know.

  • Lovely Hillary Clinton. Well, she requested a 45-day extension to file her papers. She just needed to get everything in order. I'm going to guess she's doing all right, though. As for Bubba, Former President Bill Clinton earned about $10 million in speaking fees last year.

  • Speaking fees! Former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani (R) raked in $11 million by speaking at events around the globe, reminding everyone how qualified he is on issues of national security. His empire, sadly built on the ashes of the World Trade Center, is worth somewhere between $20 million and $70 million. Hate to be harsh on Rudy, but let's face it--just a few years ago his net worth topped out at about $1.8 million

  • Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney became the richest candidate by buying and selling more than 180 companies through private equity funds. His net worth is somewhere between $190 million to $250 million. A healthy chunk of that money goes to the Mormon church, though. It's a rule.

  • Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is married to the millionaire daughter of an Arizona beer tycoon. Pretty cool.

So many choices. Hedge fund warrior. Former first lady. Former mayor cashing in on a national tragedy. Uber-wealthy private equity Mormon. Husband of a beer princess. Best selling author.

Hmm...I do love beer. And princesses. But I can't really jive with McCain's stance on Iraq.

I'm going to have to go with the best selling author. I'm sure Senator Obama wouldn't mind if you checked his book out from the library or borrowed it from a friend.

[Full disclosure: The author, a high school teacher, earned $42,448 in 2006. He has filed for an extension to report his net worth, which he will begin to calculate once he pays off his student loans.]