10 Speakers at the Republican Convention: Are They Wealthy?
Editor's note: We'll take a look at the speakers at the Democratic convention next week.
Republicans are fired up for November after GOP stars Ann Romney, Rick Santorum and keynote speaker New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (among others) kicked off the Republican National Convention Tuesday night.
But not everyone is happy with the party. Some Americans, particularly those caught in the downtrodden economy who feel the wealthy have an unfair advantage in terms of opportunity and tax breaks, believe that presidential candidate Mitt Romney is an "elitist" who favors the rich.
And while it may not affect the final vote in November, many people -- right or wrong -- have a similar perception of the party. A recent poll conducted by Pew Research found that while 84% of Americans admire rich people, at least six out of 10 people believe the Republican Party "favors the wealthy."
So is the Republican party the domain of the rich? Or is this just a political ruse to stir up emotions among voters in the final two months of the election season?
Luckily, the convention gives us a unique opportunity to answer these questions. A convention is the best time for a party to bring out its stars. Each speaker is carefully chosen to represent the party and its constituents as a whole in the best light for the American voter.
So, are the Republicans chosen to speak at the 2012 Republican National Convention wealthy or elitist politicians? We found out using the latest financial disclosure data from OpenSecrets.org, which is run by the Center for Responsive Politics. (Click here to see more about our methodology):
Some benchmarks for comparison: In 2011, President Barack Obama's net worth was $6 million. In 2010, the average net worth of a member of the U.S. House of Representatives was $5.9 million and the average net worth of a U.S. senator was $13.2 million.
8. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio
Average Wealth 2010: $379,500
Rank: 89th Wealthiest in the Senate
In Congress, Rubio sits with 99 fellow senators, 88 of whom are wealthier than him (according to 2010 data). Sen. Marco Rubio's net worth -- $379,500 as of 2010 -- was much smaller than the average senator's net worth of $13.2 million that year.
7. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul
Average Wealth 2010: $774,000
Rank: 77th Wealthiest in the Senate
The Tea Party-approved senator from Kentucky spoke on Wednesday evening.
6. New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte
Average Wealth 2010: $863,500
Rank: 73rd Wealthiest in the Senate
Senator Kelly Ayotte spoke on Tuesday evening at the convention; she argued that increased taxes placed on growing (and perhaps wealthy) businesses is like a "success tax" that limits job growth.
But Ayotte's finances show that her net worth isn't nearly as flashy as that of her peers. In terms of wealth, she ranks No. 73 out of the 100-member senate. She also has three, five-year truck loans; more than the typical American family, but certainly not outrageous.
5. Fmr. Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty
Average Wealth 2010: $1.2 million
Rank Among Governors: Unknown
Pawlenty's financial disclosures, filed in 2011 prior to his failed presidential bid, show he had assets of at least $600,000 in 2010 and possibly as high as $1.8 million. While it's not known how he ranks among fellow governors, his average net worth is a bit less than one-sixth of Obama's.
4. Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan
Average Wealth 2010: $2.1 million
Rank: 124th Wealthiest in the House of Representatives
Based on his 2010 finances, Congressman Paul Ryan is the 124th wealthiest in the 435-person House of Representatives. His average wealth, however, is still 64% lower than the average member in the House.
Ryan's finance skills may be a reason he seems to love investing. Rep. Ryan's 2011 financial disclosures show that he carries a well-diversified portfolio of more than 90 different investments. Ryan spoke on Wednesday evening.
3. Ohio House Speaker John Boehner
Average Wealth 2010: $4.1 million
Rank: 73rd Wealthiest in the House of Representatives
As of 2010, the speaker had enough accumulated wealth to pay for roughly two typical American's retirement, but when compared to his peers, he still had a net worth that was $1.8 million shy of the average member's wealth in Congress.
2. Ohio Sen. Rob Portman
Average Wealth 2010: $8.8 million
Rank: 26th Wealthiest in Senate
With a net worth of $8.8 million in 2010, Portman's wealth is likely to be slightly above Obama's, who has a net worth of $6 million.
Despite his higher wealth rank, Portman's average net worth in 2010 was about 33% lower than the average of all senate members' net worth that year ($8.8 million vs. $13.2 million).
1. Arizona Sen. John McCain
Average Wealth 2010: $16 million
Rank: 19th Wealthiest in Senate
With a net worth of $16 million, McCain's net worth was $2.8 million -- or 22% higher -- than that of the average senator. It is worthy of note that McCain was worth as much as $36.9 million in 2006, but his wealth has drastically declined since then.
McCain spoke on Wednesday at the convention.
Other Convention Speakers At the RNC
These speakers were not included in the rankings above because their 2010 net worth estimates were not readily accessible from OpenSecrets.org or from other sources. Instead, we list their net worth for the latest year for which data was available and provide additional information on their finances as reported by other sources.
Fmr. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice
Average Wealth 2008: $1.5 million
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's most recent financial records were released to the public back in 2008, but if she had a similar amount of wealth in 2010, she would rank within the top four wealthiest on this list of 2012 RNC speakers.
Rice's 2008 financial disclosures display that she's an investor as well. Her portfolio included more than 20 different investments. The former secretary of state delivered a powerful speech on Wednesday night.
Fmr. Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum
Average Wealth 2010: $1.2 Million
The son of a first-generation, Italian-immigrant father, Santorum came from a modest background being raised in the suburbs outside Pittsburgh. His lack of wealth seemed to help him during the primaries, as many viewed Santorum as the true blue-collar, working man's Republican candidate.
Santorum delivered a speech Tuesday evening at the convention.
The Investing Answer: So is it fair to say that Republicans are the party of the rich? While Mitt Romney is one of the wealthiest candidates to run for the Presidential office (next to Ross Perot and John Kerry), it's not quite so for the list of convention speakers that were chosen to represent the Republican Party. When compared to typical Americans, these Republicans are considered wealthy, but next to other politicians from both parties, most of them are far from the top.
So what about the Democratic party? Be sure and read our latest reports: 21 Facts You Must Know About The Democratic Convention and 9 Speakers At The Democratic Convention: Are They Wealthy?
Like this article? Here's more from InvestingAnswers: The 5 Wealthiest Members of Congress, The 15 Wealthiest U.S. Presidents of All Time, and The Most Powerful Group of Political Donors in America.
Methodology: For most of these politicians, the latest available disclosures were filed in 2011 and detailed their finances for the year 2010. (For others, we listed the data from the most recent year available.)
It's not possible to come up with a precise measure of the person's wealth from these documents. That's because exact dollar-amount disclosures aren't required. For example, a $300,000 asset (such as a home) would be reported only as fitting in a range of $250,000 to $500,000.
Using the filings, it's possible to estimate a top and bottom of a range for most of the possible candidates' net worth. We then averaged those two numbers and presented them below. For example, if Candidate A's wealth was estimated to range from $500,000 to $1.5 million, it would be presented below as $1 million.