The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


October 8, 2012

Members of Congress Avoided Recession's Worst


Among his real estate ventures, Greene Properties, has gained the most. Issa valued the property holding company at $25 million to $50 million in 2004, a figure that would eventually exceed $50 million.

Issa presents a particular challenge of analysis. In the system Congress set up for itself, the disclosure form's highest category of value is "more than $50 million," with no upper limit. As with the other richest legislators who report assets in that category, there is no way for the public to tell how much Issa is worth.

The same is true of Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz. The Post analysis using the midpoints of his reported ranges shows that his estimated wealth rose from $6 million in 2004 to $34 million in 2010, boosted by stock in Trinity Petroleum and holdings in Providence Trust.

He reported the value of each of those assets as between $5 million to $25 million in 2010, up from $1 million to $5 million the year before. But such ranges obscure the real value of his assets, which could have risen just enough to switch categories or by many millions of dollars.

The stock price of Trinity, which is publicly traded, nearly doubled from early 2009 to the end of 2010.

A spokesman for Franks did not respond to requests for comment.

Not all members of Congress were immune from the financial meltdown. Some who were enjoying modest gains and a semblance of wealth in the early years of the decade experienced the brunt of the crisis. Twenty lawmakers lost at least 50 percent of their portfolios between 2004 and 2010. Two dozen had their assets wiped out, the analysis found.

Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., rose to political heights in the middle of the decade — he became House majority leader in 2007 — but his finances failed to follow suit. His reported wealth declined by an estimated 90 percent between 2004 and 2010.

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