Utah literally has rich representation in Congress. Four of Utah's five members may be millionaires, according to financial disclosure forms released Friday.
But Utahns could choose this election year candidates who instead would make relatively poor representatives, economically speaking. Unlike the wealthy incumbents, three of the four major-party challengers this year are not millionaires.Forms also reveal other intriguing twists: Rep. Chris Cannon, R-Utah, is having trouble collecting loans to a man he met in a fight and an aide who resigned amid scandal. Sen Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, is not getting rich from his famed songwriting. And two candidates are seeking jobs that would cut their salaries.
Forms show that the wealthiest incumbent appears to be Cannon - who became rich helping to rebuild Geneva Steel and later using proceeds to invest in and rebuild other companies.
He says he's worth "around $20 million." Forms - where financial data is disclosed only in broad categories - show his net worth in the wide range of $10.81 million to $46.1 million.
The next richest is likely Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah. But he did not file a disclosure form yet, and requested an automatic 90-day extension. He said last year he is worth "somewhat less than $20 million," and had lost $10 million in two years by investing in risky start-up firms that were not worth much yet.
Behind him is Rep. Merrill Cook, R-Utah, who owns an explosives company, has a net worth between $1.1 million and $5.52 million.
Forms show Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, could be a millionaire - although he insists he's not. They list his net worth between $615,049 and $1.94 million - but that doesn't include his homes in Utah and Virginia nor cars, which do not have to be disclosed.
The only incumbent who definitely is not a millionaire is Rep. Jim Hansen, R-Utah. Forms list his net worth between $202,005 and $531,000 (not counting his homes or cars).
Among challengers, the only millionaire is Democrat Scott Leckman, who is running against Bennett. He is a surgeon and lists his net worth between $1.02 million and $2.5 million (again not counting his home or cars).
Democrat Scott Beierlein, a financial consultant who is running against Hansen, lists his net worth between $234,009 and $661,000 (not counting home or cars).
Democrat Lily Eskelsen, a sixth-grade teacher running against Cook, has a net worth between $34,006 and $160,000 (not counting her home or cars).
Republican Jeremy Friedbaum, a harp maker who is running against Cannon, was not required to file a disclosure form - and did not - because his campaign has not yet spent $5,000. He said, "I am not a rich man" - and has said his family is living on $4,000 of savings while he spends his time campaigning.
Following are some interesting twists revealed in the forms:
A fighting chance on a loan
Cannon is having trouble collecting loans - listed between $1,000 and $15,000 each - to a man whom he first met as he punched him in the face during a road-rage fight, and a former aide who resigned in disgrace.
Forms showed he had no income last year on a loan from Dennis B. Bacon. Cannon met him in 1995 when Bacon followed him home after Cannon had cut him off in his car, and the two fought in Cannon's driveway.
Cannon said the two managed to become friends as he paid Bacon's medical bills, loaned money to him and his brothers, and bailed a brother out of jail on an unrelated matter.
Cannon's press secretary, Jeff Hartley, said a "collection letter" has been sent out seeking payment on the loan. Cannon also reported no income last year on loans of $1,000 to $15,000 each to Bacon's brothers, Steven and Chris.
Hartley said a collection letter had also been sent to Chuck Warren, his former top aide, to whom he gave money to help with home remodeling. Warren resigned last year after another aide accused him of sexual harassment.
Don't quit your day job
While Hatch has gained recognition for the songs he's writing and having recorded, he isn't making all that much money from it.
He reported royalties of $11,146 in 1997 from Prime Recordings - which is a nice and significant secondary income, but it is not making him rich.
Royalties from a book he wrote - "Higher Laws, Understanding the Doctrines of Christ" - dropped to $719 in 1997, down from $1,637 the previous year.
Hatch also received $424 in royalties from Living Scriptures for audiotapes he helped make before he entered the Senate.
Seeking lower salaries
Leckman and Beierlein will both "win" lower salaries if they are elected to Congress.
Leckman reported a salary as a surgeon last year of $274,505. Beierlein reported a salary as a financial consultant of $238,500. The salary in Congress is a "mere" $136,682.
Keeping lifestyles high
Millionaires Cook and Cannon managed to keep their incomes high and well beyond the salary Congress gave them once elected.
Cannon reported total income between $2.26 million and $11.2 million, with between $2 million and $10 million coming from the sale and exchange of stock.
Cook reported income between $556,233 and $1.15 million, including between $350,004 and $850,000 from the sale of bonds.
Charity never faileth
Hatch's speech-making to special-interest groups raised $44,600 for charities.
Congress in recent years banned members from keeping such fees themselves but still permit speech money to be donated directly to charities in their name.
Critics say such practices can still bring some tax breaks and could allow members essentially to pay their church tithing with such funds if they chose.
Hatch did not list which charities received the money but said most are in Utah.
Many groups paying for speeches have business on committees on which Hatch has assignments. For example, legal and copyright groups - which deal with the Judiciary Committee he chairs - gave $7,000.