O'Neill Near Bottom of List : Rockefeller, Low in Senate Seniority, Tops in Wealth

Associated Press

John D. Rockefeller IV, who ranks at the bottom in Senate seniority, was No. 1 in wealth as congressional disclosure forms gave hints today of the financial status of members of Congress.

But a better estimate than the sketchy information provided by the Senate form of the West Virginia Democrat's oil-based fortune was the $150-million figure given by Forbes Magazine.

Elected to the Senate in 1984 in a campaign in which he spent $12.9 million, much of it his own money, Rockefeller eclipsed such other beneficiaries of inherited fortunes as John Heinz (R-Pa.), John C. Danforth (R-Mo.), Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Claiborne Pell (D-R.I.).

At the opposite end of the congressional scale of power and wealth was House Speaker Thomas P. (Tip) O'Neill Jr. (D-Mass.), who listed total assets of $25,000 and liabilities of $63,000.

The public disclosure forms included listings for income, assets and liabilities--within broad ranges--and exact reporting of gifts and honoraria.

Sen. Pete Wilson (R-Calif.), two years in the Senate and remarried, has accumulated property worth at least $1 million, compared to $20,000 when he took office in 1983. His disclosure forms showed income of up to $175,000 last year, as well as the property, which included a San Diego house, a 160-acre Colorado farm, an apartment and stock holdings.

Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole (R-Kan.) is half of one of the capital's best known two-income families. His wife is Transportation Secretary Elizabeth Hanford Dole. Their combined income beyond their government salaries was listed as at least $118,000.

Rockefeller and his wife, Sharon Percy Rockefeller, listed total income of at least $1.3 million in 1984, and assets of $4.14 million or more--in their case, a lot more.

Standard Oil Fortune

The son of John D. Rockefeller III, the senator benefits from two irrevocable family trusts and a third he established when he became governor of West Virginia. Rockefeller's holdings are based in the vast family fortune established by his great grandfather, John D. Rockefeller, the founder of Standard Oil Corp.

Danforth is heir to income from his family's holdings in the Ralston Purina Co.

Heinz is heir to a food family fortune. The Pennsylvania senator disclosed that he received a $972 season pass to the Philadelphia Phillies baseball games last year, but never used it.

Kennedy's income in 1984 was at least $560,193. He received a minimum of $500,000 from trust funds set up by his father, Joseph P. Kennedy.

Pell's fortune is one of America's oldest and is based on widely diversified holdings. The Rhode Island Democrat listed at least $5.4 million in assets and $953,146 in income.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World