by Amy Keller
Updated 11 months ago
While Florida’s elected officials are suffering through the economic downturn like the rest of us, some have fared better than others. A review of annual financial disclosure statements filed recently by Florida’s state and federal lawmakers shows that the economic downturn wasn’t solely to blame — natural disaster, Bernie Madoff and bad business deals also played a role. Following are some of the more notable changes in net worth among lawmakers and the factors that impacted their portfolios over the past 12 to 18 months.
|CAPITOL GAINS & LOSSES
|»||The Florida Cabinet (this page)
|»||Florida's Congressional Delegation
|»||Florida's House of Representatives
|»||The Winners Circle
|»||State Legislature Rankings
While state lawmakers provide exact dollar amounts for each of their assets and liabilities, federal lawmakers must indicate only a broad range of their assets. As a result, it is impossible to assign them an exact net worth. Also, while all state lawmakers are required to disclose the value of their homes on their financial disclosure forms, federal lawmakers are exempt from that requirement.
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The Florida Cabinet
Gov. Charlie Crist [Photo: Mark Wemple]
Gov. Charlie Crist (R)
Net Worth: $466,063
Without any real estate holdings to pull him down, Gov. Charlie Crist’s net worth grew 2% in 2008. His assets include $125,000 in “household goods and personal effects,” an IRA worth $135,408, an investment account worth $104,122; his State of Florida Deferred Compensation plan worth $72,390 and a bank account worth $29,142. It’s unclear how Crist’s wedding last year to the former Carole Lynn Rome has affected his bottom line. Although Crist attached his 2008 1040 tax form with the state ethics commission, the couple file their tax returns separately.
Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum (R)
Net Worth: $1,205,953
Alex Sink’s political rival, Attorney General Bill McCollum, lost approximately $150,000 last year, mostly in the stock market. His home value actually rose from $240,550 in 2007 to $247,767. McCollum’s largest holding is 40 acres of ranch land in Brooksville worth $408,000. His income held fairly steady, however. In addition to his salary of $133,300 from the state, he draws a congressional pension of $77,280.
Net Worth: $8,631,417
CFO Alex Sink’s net worth dropped 15% from 2007. Her hardest-
hit asset was the Adelaide A. Sink Blind Trust, which fell from
$6 million to $4.7 million. Sink’s home in Thonotosassa, her home in Tallahassee and her retirement accounts also took a hit. The one bright spot for the 2010 gubernatorial candidate was her 28.07% holding in the Sink Family L.P., which grew from $2.3 million in 2007 to almost $2.5 million in 2008 and generated $97,000 in income.
Net Worth: $2,060,297
A candidate in the 2010 race for Florida Attorney General, Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp’s primary assets include a home in Fort Myers worth more than $1.1 million, a second home in Tallahassee worth $267,624, property in North Carolina worth $41,000, and $569,830 in various bank accounts and other investments.
Net Worth: $5,518,465
Because of losses in the stock market, Charles Bronson’s net worth declined by about $500,000 at the end of 2008. His largest assets include his home and two investments properties in Leon County worth $1.7 million and 1,335 acres, buildings and equipment in Madison County worth nearly $3.2 million. He also lists stocks in the Royal Bank of Canada and the Community Bank of the South worth $338,218.
Florida’s Congressional Delegation
Net Worth: $1.6 to $6.4 million
Changes: Nelson, the wealthier of Florida’s senators, ranked 38th among all members of the Senate, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, with a 2007 net worth in the range of $1.7 million to $6.6 million. This year’s disclosure reveals a net worth between $1.6 million and $6.2 million. Nelson’s largest assets are pasture and undeveloped land in Brevard County valued at between $1,250,002 and $5,500,000. Last October, Nelson sold $300,005 to $650,000 worth of stock that he and his wife held in Brown & Brown, a Daytona Beach insurance company.
U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez (R)
Net Worth: $863,027 to $2.5 million
Changes: With a net worth between $1.2 million and$3.6 million in 2007, Martinez ranked 46th among all members of the Senate, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, before stepping down last month. This year, the retiring lawmaker’s net worth is in the range of $863,027 to $2.5 million, with between $413,012 and $1 million of that total in IRA accounts. Other holdings include mutual funds, money market accounts, a bank CD worth $50,001 to $100,000 and rental property in Orlando worth between $100,001 and $250,000.
U.S. Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite (R)
District 5: Hernando, Citrus and Sumter counties, most of Pasco and Levy counties and parts of Polk, Lake and Marion counties
Net Worth: $333,053 to $1.2 million
Changes: The Brooksville Republican’s ill-timed stock transactions hurt her bottom line and also provided fodder for her 2010 election opponent. Brown-Waite’s transactions, as first reported by the Cleveland Plain Dealer, included the purchase of $1,001 to $15,000 worth of Citigroup stock on Oct. 2, 2008, the day before Congress passed a massive rescue plan for banks like Citigroup. Eleven days later, Brown-Waite, who was serving on the House Financial Services Committee at the time, purchased $1,001 to $15,000 worth of stock in Bank of America. The Cleveland Plain Dealer and others have questioned the timing of Brown-Waite’s purchases. Brown-Waite has defended herself, telling the St. Petersburg Times that she had “no more inside information than anybody watching C-SPAN.” Besides that, the value of stocks she bought have dropped significantly since her purchases. Citigroup is trading at about $4 a share, significantly lower than the $22.50 she paid on Oct. 2. Shares in Bank of America, which sold for $22.79 the day Brown-Waite bought them, are trading at around $17. Brown-Waite has also taken a hit in the real estate market. The three-bedroom, two-bath Brooksville home she and her husband purchased in 2005 for $600,000 had a market value of $413,720 in 2008, according to the Hernando County property appraiser.
District 13: Most of Manatee County and
all of DeSoto, Hardee and Sarasota counties
Net Worth: -$70.9 million to $345.2 million
Changes: The sputtering economy and tumult in the auto industry have taken a toll on Buchanan, who according to the Center for Responsive Politics, was the eighth-richest member of Congress in 2007. In 2007, for example, Buchanan received between $1 million and $5 million in “partnership income” from Sarasota 500, his Sarasota Ford dealership. In 2008, that income dropped to between $100,001and $1 million. Likewise, another holding, Graham Construction, a commercial construction firm in Melbourne, provided him with between $100,001 and $1 million in “partnership income” in 2007. In 2008, Buchanan reported no income from Graham Construction. Meanwhile, Venice Dodge, a dealership owned partly by Buchanan, is one of 789 dealerships nationwide slated for closing by Chrysler. Buchanan has also taken a hit on the home front. His nearly 10,000-sq.-ft. home on Longboat Key was worth $7 million at the end of 2008, according to the Sarasota County property appraiser, down from $8 million the year before.
The value of Buchanan’s home in Longboat Key fell by $1 million to $7 million.
U.S. Rep. Suzanne Kosmas (D)
District 24: Parts of Orange, Seminole, Volusia and Brevard counties
Net Worth: $2.7 million to $5.9 million
Changes: Florida’s moribund real estate market whacked Kosmas’ income nearly in half between 2007 and 2008. Kosmas, who ousted Republican incumbent Tom Feeney last year, earned $157,476 in commissions from her real estate company, Prestige Properties of New Smyrna Beach, in 2007. Last year, however, she earned $86,549 in commissions. Several of her personal real estate investments have also declined in value. In 2007, four properties she owns in New Smyrna Beach and the office building where her real estate business is located were worth nearly $2.5 million, according to property tax records. In 2008, the value of those holdings dropped by nearly $500,000 to around $2 million. An Arlington, Va., home in which she has a 25% investment declined in value by $27,300 between 2007 and 2008. In 2008, her pension fund investments lost 27.79%, dragging her 2008 beginning balance from $537,391 to $376,813 as of Dec. 31, 2008.
U.S. Rep. Adam Putnam (R)
District 12: Most of Polk County, parts of Hillsborough County and a small section of Osceola County
Net Worth: $3.5 million to $10.2 million
U.S. Rep. Connie Mack (R)
District 14: Lee County and coastal portions of Charlotte and Collier counties
Net Worth: $468,072 to $1.9 million
Mack’s marriage to Rep. Mary Bono boosted his net worth.
Dec. 15, 2007, Mack married Rep. Mary Bono, widow of the late entertainer and former Rep. Sonny Bono. While Bono’s assets have dipped slightly, the marital partnership lifted Mack well out of the negative territory. The “Bono Collection Trust” generates between $100,001 to $1 million in royalties and interest — and they have a home in Palm Springs to boot.
U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney (R)
District 16: Parts of St. Lucie, Martin and Palm Beach counties and Highlands, Glades, Okeechobee, Hendry and Charlotte counties
Net Worth: -$114,987 to $413,998
District 2: All or part of 14 Big Bend counties
Net Worth: $3 million to $12.8 million
Changes: Allen Boyd, a fifth-generation farmer who grows cotton, timber, sod and peanuts on his 2,500-acre farm in Jefferson County, fared well over the past year or so thanks in part to a $1 million-to-$5 million holding in BCT Cotton Gin in Valdosta Ga. In 2007, that interest generated $50,000 to $100,000. In 2008, Boyd earned between $100,001 and $1 million. At the same time, his liabilities have shrunk considerably. In 2007, he owed $500,001 to $1 million on a mortgage on his Millwood investment property in Jefferson County. By 2008, his debt on the property was between $250,001 and $500,000.
Florida House of Representatives
Unlike their counterparts in Congress, state lawmakers must provide exact dollar amounts for each of their assets and liabilities.
10 Richest State Representatives
||Net Worth||Change from 2007|
|Baxter Troutman (R)
|Carl Domino (R)
|Tom Grady (R)
||$10,100,997||NA/elected in 2008|
|Jimmy Patronis (R)
|Paige Kreegel (R)
|Scott Plakon (R)
||$5,984,791||NA/elected in 2008|
|Ken Roberson (R)
||$5,320,199||NA/elected in 2008|
|Ralph Poppell (R)
|John Wood (R)
||$4,840,091||NA/elected in 2008|
|Tom Anderson (R)||$3,890,513||-16%|
District 101: Parts of Broward and Collier counties
Net Worth: -$84,000, -172%
What Happened: Hudson, a Naples real estate broker, was hit hard by the housing market slump. The value of his Naples residence dropped from $401,666 to $230,000 between 2007 and 2008, accounting for the vast majority of his decline in net worth. Hudson’s personal income, however, grew slightly from $181,797 in 2007 to $192,292 in 2008.
Rep. Rick Kriseman (D)
District 53: Part of Pinellas County
Net Worth: -$100,000, -128.7%
What Happened: Kriseman’s net worth took a steep dive after his home (which he valued at $500,000 in 2007) burned down in June 2008. While the fire destroyed most of the home’s contents, Kriseman’s prized wine collection, worth about $40,000, survived. Kriseman recently finished building a new LEED-certified house on the same lot, the value of which he says he’ll disclose on next year’s forms.
Rep. Franklin Sands (D)
District 98: Part of Broward County
Net Worth: $1.5 million, -80%
What Happened: Sands can thank Bernie Madoff for Sands’ plunge in status from multimillionaire to millionaire. In 2007, Sands had what he believed to be more than $4.2 million invested with Madoff through an entity called Fiserv Trust Co. When Madoff’s scheme came to light last December, Sands and many other Floridians discovered they’d been taken. According to his forms, Sands has recovered only $455,000. Sands’ largest remaining assets today are his home in Broward and an apartment in Tallahassee, which are worth $1.9 million combined. He doesn’t own them outright, however. The 69-year-old House minority leader from Weston owes $630,000 in mortgages and a home equity loan. His other remaining assets include a life insurance policy worth $30,000; an investment in Nichols Yacht Yards worth $70,000; brokerage accounts worth $90,000; and about $40,000 cash.
District 34: Parts of Orange and Seminole counties
2008 Net Worth: $706,000, -75%
What Happened: The decline in Dorworth’s net worth resulted from a land deal that went sour. In 2006, Dorworth teamed up with Seminole County Republican Party Chairman Jim Stelling to purchase a 70-acre Oviedo plant nursery that they intended to turn into a housing subdivision. Stelling and Dorworth’s company, Metro Orlando Development Group, borrowed $1.7 million from Orange County Republican Chairman Lew Oliver’s company, TG&O Holdings, for a down payment on the $8-million purchase of the property. But when the soil was found to be contaminated with arsenic and the project could not be developed, the deal fell apart. Oliver later sued Stelling and Dorworth, alleging that Metro Orlando defaulted on the $1.7 million. Last August, the Orlando Sentinel reported that Oliver, Stelling and Dorworth had reached a settlement. Terms weren’t revealed, but judging by Dorworth’s most recent financial disclosure form, it appears that Oliver and his investors will be getting their money back. Under liabilities, Dorworth lists a “¼ personally guaranteed business loan for Metro Orlando Development Group to TG&O Holdings” in the amount of $450,000 and “¾ of remaining personally guaranteed business loan for Metro Orlando Development Group to TG&O Holdings” in the amount of $1,350,000.” Dorworth’s half-ownership in the Metro Orlando Development Group, valued at $1.1 million on his 2007 financial disclosures, is no longer listed as an asset.
Rep. Luis Garcia (D)
District 107: Part of Miami-Dade County
Net Worth: $100,000, -68%
What Happened: Garcia, a retired Miami Beach fire chief, experienced significant declines in the value of his Miami Beach condo, a money market account and his stock portfolio.
10 Richest State Senators
||Net Worth||Change from 2007|
|Don Gaetz (R)
|Jeremy Ring (D)
|J.D. Alexander (R)
|Mike Bennett (R)
|Eleanor Sobel (D)
||$6,470,599||NA/elected in 2008|
|Garrett Richter (R)
|Durell Peaden (R)
|Paula Dockery (R)||$2,874,401||-2%|
|Dennis Jones (R)
|Charles Dean (R)||$2,134,000||+10%|
Sen. Ken Pruitt (R)
Net Worth: $171,940, -62%
What Happened: When Pruitt announced in May that he was retiring from the Florida Senate, “economic considerations” were one of the key reasons for his departure, he said. The constraints of his job and the economic recession had put a damper on his finances. With three children in college, the 52-year-old said he needed to get back into the private sector to get on track financially. (He recently joined the law firm of Weiss, Handler, Angelos and Cornwell, a Boca Raton-based law firm that specializes in land use issues, as a senior adviser for governmental affairs and public policy.) Pruitt’s assets declined from $693,845 in 2008 to $384,019 in 2009; with various liabilities, his net worth was $171,940. The biggest declines in his wealth stemmed from a decrease in the value of his home in Port St. Lucie, which was worth $315,000 in 2008 but $208,000 in 2009. While he listed approximately $200,000 in IRAs and SEPs (Simplified Employee Pension individual retirement accounts) on his 2008 forms, he listed none on his most recent filings.
Sen. Evelyn Lynn (R)
District 7: Parts of Clay, Marion, Putnam and Volusia counties
Net Worth: $854,913, -28%
to $361,095. Her other assets were largely intact.
District 14: Alachua, Bradford, Gilchrist, Union and parts of Columbia, Levy, Marion, and Putnam counties
Net Worth: $884,000, -49%
What Happened: Oelrich, a former Alachua County sheriff, saw his Gainesville home decline in value from $700,000 in 2008 to $500,000 in 2009. He also recorded a large drop in the value of his FRS Retirement Funds, which were worth $800,000 in 2008 and just $250,000 on his more recent filing.
District 34: Parts of Broward and Miami-Dade counties
Net Worth: $1,357,479, -18%
What Happened: The value of Rich’s Weston home declined from $951,850 in 2008 to $725,460. She also reported a significant decline in “marketable securities” — from $214,587 in 2008 to $130,632. Assets in her pension plan dropped from $58,979 last year to $42,995 on her most recent filing.
District 21: Parts of Charlotte, DeSoto, Lee, Manatee and Sarasota counties
Net Worth: $8,809,909, -45%
What Happened: Florida’s tanking real estate market dealt a blow to Bennett’s personal financial portfolio. The 64-year-old Bradenton Republican’s net worth dropped $6.8 million as a result of holdings in a variety of properties and business ventures. The value of his 23.5% share in the Ellenton Ice Sports Complex, for instance, dropped from $1.9 million to $1.1 million.
The Winners Circle
True winners were few and far between in the Florida House and Senate. In fact, Florida Trend was unable to find any state lawmaker whose net worth grew substantially in 2008-09. That said, a few lawmakers are in slightly better shape now than they were a year ago.