Huntsman wealth is set at up to $90M

Published: Tuesday, July 28 2009 12:00 a.m. MDT

As Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. and his family prepare to take off for China, where he will be the new U.S. ambassador once his confirmation is complete, they won't have one thing to worry about: money.

Huntsman's personal financial filing, required of all people seeking a top federal government appointment, shows that Huntsman is worth between $15 million and $90 million.

That wealth comes from the Huntsman Chemical stock given by billionaire Jon Huntsman Sr. and his wife, Karen, to each of their nine children.

Although the firm, now run by another son, Peter Huntsman, has fallen on tough times recently, once it was the largest privately held chemical manufacturing firm in the world, with plants in a number of counties.

Gov. Huntsman divested himself of his share of the family firm's stock four years ago when Huntsman LLC, the holding company, went public.

The governor said at the time that he was worth between $15 million and $25 million, with nearly all of the cash placed in a blind family trust so as to not cause any conflicts of interest with his public office.

Gov. Huntsman's new disclosure form lists some areas where his money is invested. He has millions of dollars in JP Morgan Chase, in the Huntsman Family Holdings Co., in Huntsman-Cooper, in Zions Bank and something called the "Cooper Family Partnership."

He has also put millions of dollars in bonds/securities issued by local government entities, like the Utah Water Finance Agency, Tooele County School District and the Salt Lake City Redevelopment Agency.

Because the federal form requires only that an appointee check boxes reflecting broad ranges of assets' and income, it is difficult to get an exact count of a person's wealth.

Besides his basic assets, Huntsman's form shows that from those investments he makes between $310,000 and $1.6 million each year.

One interesting disclosure: The governor is a partner, and has management responsibility, in Trustar Investments, and has since 1991.

The only Trustar company found on the Internet is a Chinese pharmaceutical equipment/packaging firm.

But Lisa Roskelley, the governor's spokeswoman, says Huntsman's Trustar is, in fact, a "non-functioning" investment partnership that has "just a small amount of money in it that has not yet been liquidated."

"In fact, it has not been operating for some time, although it still exists and so must be reported," said Roskelley. It is not the Chinese pharmaceutical firm, she added.

The governor lists as debt a "credit card" at Zions Bank with a balance of between $100,000 and $250,000. That's actually an unsecured $500,000 line of credit (interest rate: 8.25 percent) Huntsman has with the bank for his campaigns in 2004 and 2008.

Huntsman also has a PAC and a campaign committee. Between the two there's a balance of $227,825 in cash as of the last reporting deadline, Jan. 1.

Under a newly passed law (which he signed), any state candidate/officeholder can use campaign money for any purpose as long as he is in office. But once he leaves, he can only allocate the leftover campaign money for more restricted uses, like paying off campaign debts, giving to another candidate or a political party or a charity.

Roskelley says that when a number of 2008 campaign bills, including the Zions loan, are all taken into account, the $227,825 in Huntsman's PAC and campaign accounts will be eaten up, "and the governor will pay off any remaining campaign debt with his own personal funds."

e-mail: bbjr@desnews.com

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