The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


October 8, 2012

Members of Congress Avoided Recession's Worst


The senator's wife, Abigail Blunt, was a lobbyist for tobacco giant Altria at the time of their wedding. When Altria sold its Kraft Foods division in 2007, she remained with Kraft as a lobbyist. Abigail Blunt has brought numerous investments to the marriage, including a retirement account from Altria worth between $250,000 and $500,000, stock in Altria and Kraft Foods worth between $100,000 to $250,000, and a piece of Washington real estate valued at between $1 million and $5 million.

The fortunes of Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, can also be traced to his wife's success in the corporate world. The senator's estimated wealth jumped by more than 500 percent between 2004 and 2010, from $3 million to $17 million, The Post analysis found.

Tom and Ruth Harkin were married in 1968, but the couple didn't begin to amass wealth until the early 2000s. Ruth Harkin worked as a prosecutor and as a lawyer for the Department of Agriculture before joining the law firm of Akin Gump, where she represented companies involved in international business deals. She left to head the Overseas Private Investment Corp. before joining United Technologies as a senior vice president for international affairs and government relations.

In the early 2000s, Tom and Ruth Harkin opened mutual funds and began investing heavily in the financial markets. In disclosure forms filed with the Senate, Tom Harkin attributed much of his wealth to his wife, including her holdings in United Technologies and ConocoPhillips, where she served as a board member until recently.

Ruth Harkin also holds an unpaid position on the Iowa Board of Regents and the couple own a vacation home in the Bahamas, which is valued at between $500,000 and $1 million.

The biggest jump in the couple's wealth occurred in 2007, a time when the stock market was reaching historic heights. The couple doubled their estimated wealth, from $8 million in 2006 to $16 million in 2007. The Great Recession shaved off about $3 million in 2008, but the Harkins rebounded in 2009, rising to an estimated $17 million.

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