President Bush loves fishing, so people aiming to impress him often go that direction. Last year alone, he was given three rods and three reels along with assorted other equipment to the tune of more than $2,600. That’s in addition to at least eight other rods he’s received as gifts during his presidency.
On the other hand, Bush is only an occasional golfer. But that didn’t stop his friend and 2004 campaign finance chairman, Mercer Reynolds, from giving the president a $915 set of new clubs and covers last year.
Bush cleaned up in 2006 — as usual.
He received at least 20 gifts worth a total of $12,364, according to the financial disclosure forms the president and vice president are required by law to file each year. The reports, made public Tuesday, give a broad picture of officials’ wealth — listing assets, non-governmental income, transactions and financial arrangements as well as gifts in an attempt to provide some transparency about potential conflicts of interest.
There is no limit on the size of gifts a president or vice president can receive from a U.S. citizen. But they must report those valued at $305 or more — as well as multiple presents over $100 from the same giver, if their cumulative total exceeds $305.
Bush’s take might look familiar to many men: a pile of ties, shirts and socks, plus a lot of sports equipment. Athletic shoes, jackets and shirts were popular buys for Bush in 2006. His staff gave him two wooden benches, made for $1,600 from trees on his Texas ranch, for Christmas and cufflinks for his 60th birthday.
Vice President Dick Cheney sprung for a $658 wireless weather station as a Christmas present for his boss, known to enjoy getting outdoors to hack at brush or ride trails. The president received another of the devices, this one a $157 model, from Bush mega-fundraiser James Francis Jr. and his wife, Debbie, a longtime friend of Laura Bush. Knowing where the commander in chief gets his thrills — on his bike — Cheney also gave Bush a $400 personal trainer and cycle computer for his birthday.
Apparently the president and his No. 2 were thinking alike. At Christmas, Bush presented Cheney with $667 worth of instruments to measure temperature, barometric pressure and tides.
Cheney’s gift haul was sizably bigger than the president’s.
$400 cowboy hat among Cheney's presents
He received at least 15 presents totaling $21,674 in 2006, many reflecting the vice president’s Wyoming roots and love of outdoor pursuits. They included three fishing rods of his own worth $2,975, $615 leather hunting boots, a $400 cowboy hat and a $7,200 bronze sculpture of a Cheyenne warrior. The White House’s senior staff ponied up $778 to buy him an iPod and compact disc collection.
It is unclear from the reports whether Bush or Cheney is much better or worse off financially than a year ago because officials are required to list each asset’s value only in very wide ranges, rather than precise numbers. But the documents suggest little substantial change in 2006 from years past, in both the value and type of their holdings.
Bush earns about $400,000 a year as president, while the vice president makes slightly more than $200,000. Both are wealthy men outside those generous salaries, but Cheney is far richer.
The president and his wife, Laura, are worth at least $7.54 million, including the 1,583-acre ranch in Crawford, Texas, valued at $1 million to $5 million.
Bush reported having at least $3.6 million in Treasury notes, $710,000 in certificates of deposit, $168,000 in checking and money market accounts, $151,000 in retirement accounts and at least $1 million in investments held in a blind trust. He disclosed owning GWB Rangers Corp., worth $116,000, a tree farm worth $776,000 and mineral rights valued at up to $15,000 on property in Reeves County, Texas.
Cheney and his wife, Lynne, listed assets including at least $10.5 million in bond funds and more than $5.1 million in equity funds. The vice president reported more than $1.5 million in checking and money-market accounts, as well as an undeveloped property in McLean, Va., outside Washington worth $1 million to $5 million.
He also reported at least $3.7 million in retirement benefits and stock options.