Kerry Would Be Third-Richest U.S. President
Dan Ackman, 02.13.04, 7:00 AM ET
NEW YORK - Whatever schoolboy lore says about Abe Lincoln's log cabin or Lyndon Johnson's "Aw shucks" Texas upraising, many, if not most, U.S. presidents were born well-to-do, and nearly all were quite well off by the time they sought the nation's highest office.
A few presidents were spectacularly wealthy, such as the nation's first president, George Washington, who we reckon would have made the Forbes 400 of his day on the strength of his Virginia plantation and his wife's fortune. Others, like Lyndon Johnson and Andrew Jackson, used government service as a springboard to personal fortune.
If the Democratic primaries play out as expected, this year the race for the White House will pit Sen. John F. Kerry of Massachusetts against George W. Bush. President Bush, the second son of a president to attain the office, made our list of the richest presidents partly based on his claim to a family fortune, but mostly because of a windfall on his investment in the Texas Rangers baseball franchise.
The Richest U.S. Presidents
It is difficult to compare personal wealth across historical periods, but below is our best estimate of the relative net worths of the richest five U.S. presidents. The rankings are based on our own calculations and extensive interviews with presidential historians.
Rank Name Party Term
1. George Washington Federalist 1789-1797
2. John F. Kennedy Democrat 1961-1963
John F. Kerry* Democrat NA
3. Andrew Jackson Democrat 1829-1837
4. Lyndon B. Johnson Democrat 1963-1969
5. Herbert Hoover Republican 1929-1933
* Candidate. NA: not applicable.
Sen. Kerry, like the last JFK from Massachusetts to serve as commander in chief, is also extremely wealthy. We estimate his family fortune at $525 million, which would make him, if elected, the third-richest president ever. But the key word is "family." The Kerry money comes from his wife, Theresa Heinz Kerry, who inherited it from her late husband, Sen. John Heinz III of the Heinz food family.
This puts Kerry in a situation somewhat similar to President Kennedy's. President Kennedy's father, Joseph, and his mother, Rose, were both still alive when JFK was in office and when he was assassinated, so John never inherited even a share of the Kennedy family fortune, which we estimated to be worth $850 million at its height in 1990.
But Joseph Kennedy was, under campaign finance laws at the time, free to spend basically as he wished on his son's electioneering efforts, which he certainly did.
Here John Kennedy and candidate Kerry part company. Current federal law prohibits wife Theresa from donating more than $2,000 to her husband's campaign. Indeed, in December, when Howard Dean was riding high, Kerry mortgaged his share of his family townhouse on Boston's Beacon Hill to raise money for his campaign.
In the course of his career, Kerry's campaigns have received substantial funding from employees and affiliates of such companies as Fleet Boston Financial (nyse: FBH - news - people ), Time Warner (nyse: TWX - news - people ), Citigroup (nyse: C - news - people ) and Goldman Sachs (nyse: GS - news - people ), according to the Center for Public Integrity, a Washington, D.C.-based investigative group. Corporate lawyer firms like Boston-based Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo and New York-based Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom have also been big backers.
While there are limits on what Theresa Heinz Kerry might contribute to her husband's campaign, she may, depending on how current law is construed, be able to spend as much of her own money as she wishes on "issue ads"--advertisements that advance a cause or theme. She might also contribute unlimited sums to other groups running their own issue ads.
Of course, if Sen. Kerry's campaign were to benefit from spousal spending, there would inevitably be allegations that he was exploiting a loophole. Others would say that the candidate was simply countering the incumbent president's huge lead in fundraising.
Either way, this was the kind of issue that the widow Martha Dandridge Curtis, who married the legendarily forthright Washington--cherry tree and all that--never had to worry about.
Jets Insider VIP JetsInsider.com Legend Charter JI Member
Post Thanks / Like
[quote][i]Originally posted by Bob the Jets Fan™[/i]@Feb 16 2004, 09:37 PM
[b] What, exactly, does that mean? [/b][/quote]
What does it mean?...listen to Kerry...on one hand he says, "where gonna throw the special interests groups out of Washington" while his other hand is behind his back taking more money from these special interest groups than any other Senator in Washington.
Jets Insider VIP JetsInsider.com Legend Charter JI Member
Post Thanks / Like
[quote][i]Originally posted by Bob the Jets Fan™+Feb 17 2004, 12:15 AM--></span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>[b]QUOTE[/b] (Bob the Jets Fan™ @ Feb 17 2004, 12:15 AM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'> Do you REALLY want to compare special interest money?
[url=http://activate.johnkerry.com/t?ctl=54414D:26091A3]Check THIS out.[/url]
I know the truth isn't particularly important to you, but I thought I'd try, anyway. [/b][/quote]
What I want to compare is what one person says and actually does....Kerry does not support the war in Iraq, but voted for it....kerry wants to stop jobs from leaving America but voted for NAFTA amongst other things....kerry wants our intelligence services overhauled but voted several times to slash funding for the CIA....kerry says he is against special interest yet accepts hundreds of thousands of dollars from them....kerry proudly sticks out his chest about his service in Vietnam yet turned his back on the GI's he served with and called them war criminals.....kerry says the President is incorrectly fighting the war on terror yet also says the President is misleading Americans and exagerating the terrorist threat to this nation....and so
on....and so on......and so on.......
<!--QuoteBegin--Bob the Jets Fan™[/i]@Feb 17 2004, 12:15 AM
[b] I know the truth isn't particularly important to you, but I thought I'd try, anyway. [/b][/quote]
The truth is kerry is a liar...as far as special interest money goes he's acted like he is above it all yet accepts more of it than anyone in the senate; that's the comparison!
Kerry and Edwards, incidentally, live a block apart in Georgetown in million dollar mansions.
John Kerry Unveils the Regal Deal
By Steve Hornbeck
Published 2/17/2004 12:05:30 AM
Presumptive Democratic frontrunner John Kerry on Monday blasted President Bush's visit to the Daytona 500 as a "photo opportunity." In a dramatic shift from his recent more populist rhetoric, Kerry went on to refer to Middle America's cherished sporting event as the "Declassé 500," noting with disdain that the race audience consists in large part of men who, when in the workplace, have their names appear on their shirts. Kerry went on to add that he did have some slight interest in visiting the track to watch them wave "the chessboard flag" but, on balance, couldn't justify it as, "St. Barts is so much preferable to Florida this time of year."
While the Daytona 500 comments might seem intemperate, they actually mark a bold new strategy for the Kerry campaign, which has replaced the slogan "The Real Deal" with the much more fitting, "The Regal Deal." Says one campaign insider, "Trying to be a populist just wasn't a good fit for John. No matter how many times we tried to get him to refer to the average voter as 'Joe Sixpack,' he would use the phrase, 'Joe Brandy Snifter.'" This doesn't mean that sporting events are completely off the radar for the campaign. The Kerry team is currently in talks with the Indianapolis 500 to stage a ceremony that would reflect the candidate's humble background. This would feature, on the racetrack, a mock-up of Kerry's Beacon Hill Mansion with a fire hydrant in front; the hydrant would then be ceremoniously removed by officials as the Senator triumphantly drives in and parks his Ducati Paso motorcycle.
Sources close to the campaign say to expect more of "The Regal Deal" this week as Kerry changes his focus from attracting the votes of "NASCAR Dads" to what the campaign calls "Neiman-Marcus Dads." In prepared remarks to be delivered later this week, an unusually blunt Kerry will continue to blast President Bush's "photo opportunities" while defending his own tendency to marry fabulously wealthy women as "portfolio opportunities," proudly meant to increase Kerry stock holdings. Says another excerpt, "This administration has mishandled post-war planning in Iraq while my involvement in pre-nuptial agreement planning has been absolutely first-rate, according to many of my wives' attorneys." The speech ends with a variation on the old Kerry standby, "Bring it on!" The new and improved version: "Bring it on an antique silver tea service before her ladyship's temper is aroused over luncheon being late!"
The change in strategy marks a new confidence in the campaign now that a former intern has denied allegations of an affair with the candidate, the apparent truth being that she's a typical young woman, like thousands of others in recent years, whose father just happens to refer to a prominent Democratic candidate as a "sleazeball" for undisclosed personal reasons.
And, of course, the new direction for the campaign would be unthinkable without the input of the often volatile Teresa Heinz Kerry whose distaste for the unwashed masses is unmistakable in news footage and photos, as witness her recent campaign rally cheer, "Vote for John Kerry, you wretched little fry cooks and tool-users!" Still, she rises early every morning with her husband to prepare him for the day's events, drilling him on the subtle differences between being merely arrogant and cavalier and being supremely aloof and supercilious. And yet uneasiness persists over her role. When asked by if he could really picture Mrs. Kerry making the required rounds on the talk show circuit and chatting up Oprah and Katie Couric, a top-level campaign adviser began to whimper softly, his lower lip quivering as his knees began to buckle. It was only quick thinking on this reporter's part that kept him from swallowing his tongue.
Steve Hornbeck, a former writer for ABC's Politically Incorrect, lives in Albany, New York.
[quote][b]Kerry and Edwards, incidentally, live a block apart in Georgetown in million dollar mansions.[/b][/quote]
I live in D.C. and there aren't too many mansions in Georgetown. A tiny 2 bedroom house could cost $1 Million there. I live in the ghetto and my house is worth $600K. People have started commuting from West Virginia because the housing is too expensive in Maryland and Virginia.