Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on May 23, 1976 · Page 131
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May 23, 1976

Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 131

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Charleston, West Virginia
Issue Date:
Sunday, May 23, 1976
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Page 131
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Page 131 article text (OCR)

Senators who married wealth Philip Han (Mich.) and former lane Cameron Brfggs. Barry Co/dwater (Mz.) and former Margaret /ohnson. Richard Stone (Fla.) and former Mar/ene l^r^r hkU. WASHINGTON, D.C. H ow rich are the two U.S. Senators from your state? Do you know? Do you care? Does it make any difference to you whether or not they are millionaires? Do these men vote their pocketbooks? Do they represent special interests? Are they torn by a conflict of interest? Is it possible for a poor man to be elected to the U.S. Senate? Does a wealthy incumbent who can finance his own reelection campaign enjoy an unfair advantage over a poor challenger? Are the wealthy less immune to the blandishments and contributions of the lobbyists than those who are not wealthy? What effect does a Senator's wealth have on the electoral process? Earlier.this year, the Supreme Court ruled that a candidate for a Seriate seat (or any other federal office) may spend by Lloyd Shearer an unlimited amount of personal money in a campaign--although contributions from all other donors remain restricted by law. As a result, wealthy contenders probably will spend hundreds of thousands of dollars of their families' money to gain election or reelection to the Senate this year. Races for millionaires Several years ago Congressman Torbert H. MacDonald, a Democrat of Massachusetts, declared: "In the nation's seven largest states in 1970,11 of the 15 major Senatorial candidates were millionaires. The four who were not lost their bids for election." For years most lawmakers declined to disclose the status of their personal ·wealth. Many considered it an invasion of their privacy. Many were afraid such disclosures would affect their popu- larity adversely. Many were fearful that such disclosures would set off investigations into the origins of their wealth. Last year, on June 16, 1975, Ralph Nader's Citizens Action Group delivered a questionnaire to the office of each U.S. Senator. The questionnaire asked for the Senator's personal net worth, that of his spouse and minor children, and his future interests, to be estimated within five broad categories: Are you worth under $50,000? Are you worth between $50,000 to $250,000? Are you worth between $250,000 to $500,000? Are-you worth between $500,000 to $1 million ? Are you worth over $1 million? By March, 1976, after numerous follow-ups by phone and letter, 59 Senators had answered the Nader questionnaire. · The Nader group thereupon made "reasonable estimates" of the net worth of an additional 19 Senators, "leaving 22 Senators for whom no reliable information was available." Under Rule 44 of the Standing Rules of the Senate, every U.S. Senator must file a detailed report with the Comptroller General of the US. in a sealed envelope marked "Confidential Personal Financial Disclosure of..." This envelope contains a copy of the Senator's tax returns, his assets and liabilities--in short, much of his financial worth. But these envelopes are not available to the public. They are kept sealed for seven years and can be opened only when a Senator is suspected of crookedness and the Senate Select Committee on Standards and Conduct votes to have them opened. This has not yet happened. The data compiled by the Citizens Action Group reveal that at least 21 Senators are millionaires; four are worth between half a million to a million; 18 are worth between $250,000 to $500,000; 30 are worth between $50,000 to $250,000; five are worth under $50,000; and 22 are listed whose net worth could not be estimated. A list of the wealthiest The wealthiest men in the U.S. Senate in alphabetical order are: HOWARD IAKEt,50 (R.Jenn.). Baker, son-in-law of the late Sen. Everett Dirksen, is a lawyer with extensive interests in real estate, banking and mining. His assets, according to his press secretary, are tied up in "blind trusts."

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