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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

Senator Marco Rubio will speak at the convention on Thursday night to introduce Mitt Romney. The Cuban-American senator from Florida will make the case that his party aligns with Hispanic values.

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 son of Texas Rep. Ron Paul, Rand Paul had a net worth that amounted to just a 17th of the average senator's net worth. He's definitely his pro-gold-standard father's son though, as his financial disclosures show he has between $15,000 and $50,000 of his wealth in the USAA Precious Metals mutual fund.

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

The former governor of Minnesota is the first millionaire so far on our list of GOP convention speakers. He spoke on Wednesday evening.

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

He may have gotten his start working at McDonald's and waiting tables, but the GOP's young-gun budget crafter and freshly announced Republican VP candidate knows a thing or two about finance. 

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

The house speaker grew from humble beginnings, sharing a small house with 11 brothers and sisters in Hill Street, Ohio and working at his father's tavern. After quite a few years in Congress, Boehner wealth has certainly grown.

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

An Ohio political veteran, Sen. Rob Portman has had a few years to build his wealth, making him the most affluent member that was on Romney's VP short list. Out of the 100-member senate, he ranks as having the 26th highest net worth among his peers.

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

The familiar senator from 2008 who ran for President, 76 year old John McCain is the wealthiest Republican on this list of RNC 2012 speakers. In fact, the former war veteran is wealthier than 81 of his fellow senators in Congress.

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 senator who gave Romney a run for his money during the primaries certainly didn't have nearly as much of his own, judging by the last financial disclosure he released when he was senator in 2006.

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.

[InvestingAnswers Feature: 24 Amazing Facts You Didn't Know About the Republican 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 TimeSpecial Report: Romney VP Contenders' Finances RevealedThe Most Powerful Group of Political Donors in America, and Congress' Favorite Dividend Stock.
 

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.