Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, says his net worth remained about the same last year - after it had plummeted by a third from $30 million to less than $20 million since 1995.
Perhaps the bright side during an election year is that no one can accuse Bennett of seeking high office to enrich himself.Bennett reported the halt in the recent decline of his net worth as he filed his annual personal financial disclosure form. Other Utah members of Congress filed their forms in May, but Bennett had requested an automatic 90-day extension.
"You're accurate to say I'm still worth somewhat less than $20 million, or essentially the same as last year," he told the Deseret News.
In 1995, his net worth took a nose dive from $30 million to "about $20 million" as he borrowed heavily against his stock in Franklin Quest (now Franklin Covey) - a time management company he helped build - to invest in several risky, start-up firms.
Bennett said at the time that taking such risks is what made him a multimillionaire and said he had high hopes that one of those businesses would eventually become "another Franklin Quest."
Last year, he reported continuing losses from those companies, and he said his net worth continued to fall to "somewhat less than $20 million." He said he was also finding it emotionally difficult not to be personally involved in the management of those companies - which Senate ethics rules prohibit.
Now, he said of those start-up businesses, "None of them has closed its doors. But none of them has become a smashing success yet either." He reported the worth of all of them to be roughly the same as last year.
Only Bennett's word gives a close idea of what his actual net worth may be because Senate forms - which require disclosures only within broad categories - indicate his worth is somewhere in the laughably broad range of minus $17.8 million to a positive $82.5 million.
"I wish it were that higher number," he joked.
Forms listed his income last year as between $157,506 and $207,308 - with sales of stock and similar holdings bringing additional profit between $1.56 million and $10.97 million.
His year-end assets were listed between $19.49 million and $93.06 million (his Franklin Quest stock had a year-end value of about $8.8 million).
His liabilities - mostly loans against his stock holdings and real estate loans - were listed between $10.56 million and $37.26 million.
Bennett has said he has borrowed heavily against his stock holdings to avoid capital gains taxes he would have to pay if he sold them. He said he comes out ahead so long as the companies he invests in with money from those loans make more money over time than the interest he pays.
Forms showed he paid at least $139,328 in interest last year - which was slightly more than his Senate salary of $136,700.
Bennett said he has no plans to put any more of his own money into his Senate campaign this year. During his first campaign six years ago, he financed much of it out of his own pocket - spending more than $2 million.
Forms filed with the Federal Election Commission show Bennett put $626,000 of his own money into the early part of his re-election campaign between 1993 and 1996.
Forms filed earlier show that Bennett's Democratic opponent, Scott Leckman, is also a millionaire - but his net worth was listed at between only $1.02 million and $2.5 million (not counting his home or cars).
Bennett is likely the second-wealthiest member of Utah's congressional delegation behind Rep. Chris Cannon, R-Utah, who says he's worth somewhat more than $20 million. Forms show his net worth in the wide range of $10.81 million to $46.1 million.
Forms show the worth of Rep. Merrill Cook, R-Utah, who owns an explosives company, between $1.1 million and $5.52 million.
They show Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, with a net worth between $615,049 and $1.94 million (not counting his homes or cars). And they show the worth of Rep. Jim Hansen, R-Utah, between $202,005 and $531,000.