Congress Is Rich With Millionaires

TIMES STAFF WRITERS

The Senate added a class of rich new members last November, but many of its most powerful players, including new Majority Leader Tom Daschle, are of relatively modest means, according to financial disclosures released Thursday.

Daschle, now the nation's top Democrat, helps oversee how trillions of dollars in federal money will be spent but lists as his most valuable personal asset partial ownership of a home in Aberdeen, S.D., given to him by his mother. Its worth is listed at less than $100,000.

The records also show that California's congressional delegation has at least 22 millionaires and that Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) turned quick profits on active trading in energy stocks last year while the state headed into its power crunch.

Boxer said Thursday she did not control the investments. "Our family investment advisor makes our investment decisions through a power of attorney. However, in light of the current energy crisis in California, I have instructed my advisor to divest our holdings of all energy stocks."

Boxer's records were among thousands of pages of financial disclosures released for virtually all 535 members of Congress, documenting their holdings, transactions and travel schedules through December 2000. The records offer a glimpse of the wide variation in personal wealth among lawmakers and how the rising cost of campaigns is attracting a new generation of multimillionaire politicians.

Among the newcomers in the Senate this year is Jon Corzine (D-N.J.), a former chairman of the investment bank Goldman, Sachs & Co., who reported assets valued between $116 million and $291 million.

The estimates are vague because lawmakers are only obligated to report the values of their assets in broad ranges. Corzine, for instance, listed six items--including land in Colorado and shares of a money market fund--in one category that covers holdings worth from $5 million to $25 million.

Other wealthy newcomers in the Senate include Mark Dayton (D-Minn.), who reported holdings worth between $9 million and $38 million, and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), who listed assets worth between $7 million and $33 million.

Cantwell, a former top executive at Internet company RealNetworks Inc., also pocketed $10.8 million through the sale of stock options in the company, whose shares have fallen sharply in value over the last year.

The trio joined a list of wealthy senators that includes John Edwards (D-N.C.), Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), Herbert Kohl (D-Wis.) and John D. "Jay" Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.).

Another freshman senator, Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), listed assets between $781,000 and $1.79 million and liabilities of at least $2.28 million. The latter were categorized as debts for legal services.

Daschle, of South Dakota, reported assets worth between $247,000 to $830,000. Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) listed holdings roughly equivalent in value.

Despite the market downturn over the last year, the number of millionaires among California's two senators and 52 House members rose to at least 22, up from an estimated 16 last year.

Rep. Jane Harman (D-Redondo Beach), who last November regained a seat she had surrendered to run for governor in 1998, was by far the wealthiest Californian in Congress, reporting assets worth between $107 million and $297 million. Those holdings included a stake in Enron Corp. worth between $150,000 and $350,000.

Enron is a Houston-based firm that critics say has exploited the California energy crisis to boost its profits. Harman said her holdings are less than $107 million but declined to provide a figure. She said that a financial advisor handles her investments and that her energy holdings pose no conflict of interest.

"I have an extremely aggressive position on price-gouging," Harman said, noting she has co-sponsored a bill to stop it.

The records for Boxer, who has emerged as one of the fiercest critics of the power industry, show a flurry of profitable trades throughout 2000 in such stocks as Duke Energy Corp., Diamond Offshore Drilling Inc. and El Paso Energy Corp.

Records show that she bought shares in energy companies in at least 66 transactions, and by the end of the year held stakes whose combined worth was estimated at between $126,000 and $355,000. She also pocketed tens of thousands of dollars in numerous sales. Two transactions involving shares of Halliburton Co., the Texas oil services firm formerly headed by Vice President Dick Cheney, yielded profits of between $15,000 and $50,000.

Boxer pointed to her sharp criticism of the power industry as evidence that she was not influenced by her holdings. "Indeed, in many cases, my votes and positions are at odds with those investments," she said.

Boxer, whose portfolio also includes technology and numerous other stocks, listed total assets of between $2.3 and $6.9 million. A spokesman for Boxer said the actual value of her portfolio at the end of last year was $1.73 million, representing a slight rise in value from $1.7 million a year earlier.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) reported combined holdings with her husband, businessman Richard Blum, worth between $34.7 million and $96.6 million.

In the House, California's second-richest member was freshman Rep. Darrell E. Issa (R-Vista), who owned a lucrative car alarm business before he was elected to Congress in November. He reported between $56 million and $204 million in assets.

Rep. Doug Ose (R-Sacramento), who chairs the House subcommittee on energy policy, ranked third in wealth among the California House members. Last year, Ose's assets were listed at a minimum of $11.2 million. This year, his assets totaled a minimum of $48 million.

At the other end of the spectrum, Gary A. Condit (D-Ceres) listed no reportable assets or outside income, reporting only a credit line with Wells Fargo for at least $50,000. It's the second year in a row he has ranked at the bottom of the wealth ladder among the state's delegation.

Times staff writers Faye Fiore and Tynisa E. Trapps contributed to this story.

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Lawmakers' Assets

Estimated value of assets held on Dec. 31, 2000, by California's two U.S. senators and the 10 wealthiest representatives in the state's 52-member House delegation, based on annual financial disclosure forms:

SENATE

IN MILLIONS

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D): $34.7-$96.6

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D): $2.3-$6.9

*

HOUSE

IN MILLIONS

Rep. Jane Harman (D-Redondo Beach): $107.2-$297.9

Rep. Darrell E. Issa (R-Vista): $56.5-$203.6

Rep. Doug Ose (R-Sacramento): $48.7-$160.9

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco): $16.2-$58.0

Rep. Gary G. Miller (R-Diamond Bar): $14.8-$63.0

Rep. David Dreier (R-San Dimas): $7.7-$33.7

Rep. Pete Stark (D-Hayward): $5.6-$26.5

Rep. Ellen O. Tauscher (D-Pleasanton): $5.1-$25.1

Rep. Tom Lantos (D-San Mateo): $4.1-$11.7

Rep. Wally Herger (R-Marysville): $2.1-$10.3

Combined assets of California's lawmakers: $323.3- $1,040.9*

*Disclosure statements were not released for Rep. Howard L. Berman (D-Mission Hills), Rep. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon (R-Santa Clarita), Rep. Hilda L. Solis (D-El Monte), Rep. William M. Thomas (R-Bakersfield), Rep. Mike Thompson (D-St. Helena) and Rep. Diane Watson (D-Los Angeles).

Note: Lawmakers describe their assets using a range of values--for example, between $1 million to $5 million. The totals above reflect that potential range in value.

Sources: Secretary of the Senate, clerk of the House of Representatives, staff reports

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