Viewpoint: 2004: Abe couldnt make it
By Joe Baker, Senior Editor
If Abe Lincoln were trying to run for president today, he wouldnt have a prayer. Of the eight or so candidates already in the running, at least six are multimillionaires.
The most Midas-like is Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts. His reported assets are between $196 million and $688 million. Kerry says the money really isnt his, but belongs to his wife, who is heiress to the Heinz catsup fortune.
Nonetheless, Kerry has hinted he may use some of the money for his campaign.
Kerry has more than 20 times the amount available to incumbent President George W. Bush. Vice President Dick Cheney runs second with about $22 million available compared with $9.6 million for Bush.
North Carolina Democrat Sen. John Edwards can tap into a kitty of $8.7 million, while Sen. Bob Graham, Democrat of Florida, has $7.3 million in his war chest.
Vermont Democrat and former Gov. Howard Dean has a mere $3.9 million, and Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., admits to only $378,000. The Show-Me-State man, Sen. Dick Gephardt of Missouri, claims just $134,000. It is difficult to tell what amount these two actually have because the figures they reported are only the minimum levels of a range, not exact amounts. That is true for the other candidates as well.
Kerry listed 950 assets on his disclosure form. He reported $2.5 million in CDs, money markets and bank accounts. Theres $3.7 million in investments of various kinds, such as 401Ks, IRAs, and mutual funds. He also listed $151 million in stocks and bonds. All but three of the assets are in his wifes name.
Cheneys assets might go as high as $103 million. The former chairman and CEO of Halliburton Oil holds money market accounts worth between one-quarter and one-half million dollars. In addition, there is a Vanguard account valued between $1 million and $5 million, and three additional investment funds worth $5 million to $25 million, each.
Cheneys former company is positioned to profit handsomely if Saddam Husseins regime is removed in Iraq.
Vermont does not require financial disclosure reports from candidates. The Center for Public Integrity, however, obtained a federal disclosure form that shows Dean is worth nearly $4 million.
Another candidate is Rev. Al Sharpton. As a private citizen, he isnt required to reveal his finances. However, he drew $90,000 in salary from the National Action Network in 2001, according to IRS documents.
Those with the most money made the most money. Kerry and his wife raked in $13.2 million; much of it classed as unearned income from their investments. Thats more than seven times the combined total of the other candidates.
Cheney got at least $1.2 million in unearned income and Bush had a minimum of $340,000. Edwards total unearned income was $274,000, and Graham brought in $273,000.
It was a very good year for Cheney. Halliburton paid him a bonus of $1.4 million in January 2001. The oil company also handed Cheney a deferred salary payout of $147,579, and a Senior Executive Deferred Compensation plum of $57,719.
On top of all that, Bush and Cheney received a number of valuable gifts. Bush was given his own golf cart worth $7,101 for one example, and Cheney got a silver coffee service worth $9,000.
With that kind of income floating around, and the rarified atmosphere of power in which these men travel, does it seem likely that any of them can appreciate the problems and concerns of the ordinary American? The influence of the corporate culture on government is very obvious.
For information on these politicos, check www.centerforpublicintegrity.org.