“Many state lawmakers are in the millionaires’ club: Filings offer peek into finances of Wisconsin’s congressional delegation”

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, May 20, 2007

By Katherine M. Skiba

May 20 — WASHINGTON — After spending more than $2.5 million of his money to win a seat in Congress, freshman Democrat Steven Kagen hasn't changed in one respect.

He’s still a millionaire.

Kagen, a physician from Appleton, reported last week that he has assets upward of $6.2 million.

He’s in good company because there are some big bucks within the Wisconsin congressional delegation, as shown in new financial disclosure statements. The annual reports were due last week.

Another Democrat, Sen. Herb Kohl, leads the 10 federal lawmakers in wealth. Kohl owns the Milwaukee Bucks, a pro basketball franchise that Forbes magazine estimates is worth $260 million.

Kohl rounds out his portfolio with commercial real estate and a horse ranch near Jackson, Wyo.

His adjusted gross income in 2006: almost $11.79 million.

House Republican Jim Sensenbrenner of Menomonee Falls gave his net worth as $11.6 million. It includes stocks and bonds worth $7.1 million and three residences worth $2.6 million.

Sensenbrenner, an heir to the Kimberly-Clark Corp. fortune, has two older-model Cadillacs, two Buicks and two boats. The priciest: a 20-foot pontoon boat with a 40-horsepower motor, worth $13,000.

A philatelist, he has a stamp collection worth about $100,000.

House Republican Tom Petri of Fond du Lac reported holdings of more than $8.1 million. That counts a $350,000 partnership in Lloyd’s of London insurance underwriters.

House Democrat Tammy Baldwin of Madison gave her net worth as almost $1.1 million a year ago but would not specify it this year.

Federal lawmakers must make yearly disclosures to comply with the Ethics in Government Act. They do not need to specify their net worth, but they must describe many — but not all — assets and give their value in broad dollar ranges.

The Journal Sentinel seeks more transparency. It requests a complete statement of net worth and federal and state tax returns. The lawmakers comply with the request to varying degrees — and in different ways. For example, some members give the value of their residences; some only the half they own; and some not at all.

Based on how broad the congressional reporting requirements are, Kagen, an allergist, could have holdings as high as $19.5 million.

Baldwin’s holdings were reported in the range of $533,000 and $1.7 million.

Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold saw his net worth jump to more than $404,000, up from about $220,000 a year earlier.

By appearances, House Democrat Gwen Moore of Milwaukee would rank at the bottom of the congressional delegation in net worth.

She identified a $107,700 Milwaukee home, Wisconsin Deferred Compensation Plan funds and a state pension as assets.

None of the lawmakers are required to report holdings in U.S. government retirement programs.

Other highlights:

— House Republican Paul Ryan of Janesville gave his adjusted gross income for 2006 as $210,673. He reported holdings from $753,033 to $2 million.

— House Democrat Dave Obey of Wausau said he doesn't own any stocks. He has two homes and a cottage, plus other assets worth $70,007 to $225,000.

— House Democrat Ron Kind said his net worth was from $50,000 to more than $1 million.

— Kohl reported almost $7.3 million in capital gains in 2006; almost $4.8 million in taxable interest income; and just less than $2.1 million in dividend income.

He reported more than $8.1 million in itemized deductions, plus business and other losses of $2.5 million, bringing his taxable income to $3.6 million.

— Kagen noted his Kagen Allergy Clinics had gross revenues of nearly $1.2 million last year; net income after tax was $220,000. He called himself sole proprietor of the business.

He entered Congress in January, and in light of a ruling from the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, he then said he was selling his business to brother Charlie Kagen, a dermatologist.

In his report, Kagen said he sold the practice for $50,000 on Jan. 2.

Through late November, Kagen had lent his campaign $2.57 million, Federal Election Commission reports show.

— Contributions to charity are known only when lawmakers disclose them — or provided tax schedules. Kind and his wife, Tawni, said they gave $5,954 to charity; Feingold, $4,831; and Baldwin, $4,018.