FOLLOWING MONEY IN 2016 PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS

Thursday, February 10, 2011

16-Year (So Far) Senate Career Has Not Been (Financially) Rewarding For Arizona Senator Jon Kyl...Yet

Occasionally, a snarky comment from the Arizona Republic's large community of commenters prompts a story idea.  So it was this morning when someone said that it would be "interesting" to see how Arizona Senator Jon Kyl's net worth has changed since he's been in Congress.  In the 16 years that he has been in the Senate, the answer is:  NOT MUCH!

Arizona's Politics did not go back to check his financial disclosure statements filed during his four terms in the House of Representatives.  However, his possible net worth - Congressional disclosure statements give wide ranges - has increased less than 1.1% per year.  Of course, Sen. Kyl will begin drawing a considerable government pension in 2013, and could earn sizable fees as a speaker and/or lobbyist.  But, his disclosure statements indicate that he did not enrich himself (and his wife) while serving in Congress.

Arizona's Politics calculated the average between his minimum net worth and his maximum net worth for his 1995 disclosure statement, using the same methodology that the Center for Responsive Politics used for his 2009 statement.  (2010 is not yet due.)  In 1995, Kyl's net worth was somewhere between $243,000 and $820,000 (plus some $12,000 in stock that was exactly valued), for an average of $544,000.  (That ranks him as the 82nd richest member of the Senate; Arizona's other senator, John McCain, for example, is the 16th richest with an average of nearly $16 million.)

In 2009, CRP calculated his range at between $519,090 and $746,082, with an average of $632,586.  Using those two averages, my simplistic calculations show that the Kyls' net worth increased approximately 16.2% over 15 years, which would annualize to less than 1.1%.  That miserably failed to keep up with the stock market or the rate of inflation.  Safe to say that the Kyls did not enrich themselves while in the Senate.  In fact, given what he could have earned if he had kept his partnership in a large Phoenix law firm, his political career was a large financial loss.

Of course, many people believe that Congress has passed laws to unfairly enrich themselves at taxpayers' expense once they leave office.  Not true.  However, our back-of-the-envelope calculations on Kyl's pension does indicate that he will draw approximately $122,360 per year from the federal retirement system.  This figure will apparently be reduced by his social security benefits (yes, he paid social security taxes), and is based upon his current salary of $174,800 (an increase in congressional salaries in the next two years will increase his pension benefit).

Kyl seemed to indicate this morning that he had little interest in lobbying, and that the only elected office he might be interested in would be Vice President.  However, there is little doubt that he could "earn" any amount that he and his wife would want to after leaving the Senate.

But, if you wondered if Jon Kyl profited from serving Arizona in the U.S. Senate, you can certainly put those wonders to rest.




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