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Lawmakers profit from gold mines, books

Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, the new Democratic leaders of the House and Senate, are obviously not in it for the money.
Iraq Congress
Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., third from left, will have something to fall back on should his Majority leadership position fall through - gold mines.Lawrence Jackson / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, the new Democratic leaders of the House and Senate, are obviously not in it for the money.

According to financial disclosure forms filed by House and Senate members Thursday, Speaker Pelosi, through her marriage, is a millionaire many times over. Reid, whose leadership post depends on holding onto a fragile majority in the Senate, can always fall back on his gold mining claims in Nevada.

In 2006 Pelosi, D-Calif., and Reid, D-Nevada, got salaries of $183,500 as the minority leaders in the House and Senate. Rank-and-file lawmakers received $165,200 in pay.

The Republican leaders also reported healthy incomes and assets.

epa00993530 US Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell (L) makes remarks to the press on Capitol Hill in Washington, United States, 26 April 2007, after Democrats passed legislation in the Senate by a 51-46 vote to require the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq by 01 October 2007. US President George W. Bush is expected to quickly veto the bill. Republican Sens. John Cornyn (2-R) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R) listened. EPA/MIKE THEILERMike Theiler / EPA

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, said he held property in the District of Columbia worth $1 million-$5 million. But a large portion of the family assets is held by his wife, Labor Secretary Elaine Chao. She had investments, mostly in index and mutual funds, totaling between roughly $850,000 and $1.9 million, plus retirement accounts valued at between $265,000 and $600,000.wi

House GOP leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, reported assets of $1 million to $5 million in the retirement plan of a plastics company he previously headed.

The disclosure forms provide only traces of the legal clouds overhanging several lawmakers.

Rep. William Jefferson, D-La., facing a 16-count indictment on charges he received more than $500,000 in bribes, said his major sources of unearned income were rent from two tracts of land on Lake Providence in Louisiana, worth less than $7,500. He reported $56,250 in gifts to his legal defense trust fund.

The upper house
Senators in particular tend to come from the upper echelons of wealth, with many claiming incomes and assets reaching well into the millions. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., heir to his family's oil fortune, has three blind trusts worth more than $80 million.

Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., who is running for president, reported that her husband, former President Clinton, made more than $10 million for giving speeches last year. The couple held two accounts - a regular bank account and a blind trust, each valued at between $5 million and $25 million. The forms don't require Congress members to report exact figures, only to note the ranges their holdings fall within.

The low end of the wealth scale included Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., the top Republican on the Homeland Security Committee, who said he had no major sources of unearned income in 2006. His major asset was a bank account held jointly with his wife worth between $50,000 and $100,000.

Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton, D-Mo., said his major asset was a trust fund worth $100,000 to $250,000 and his major source of unearned income was dividends and interest worth less than $2,500.

Reid owns portions of more than 200 acres of mining claims, including old claims around his hometown of Searchlight. Reid has promised to revise earlier disclosure forms after questions arose last year over a Las Vegas land deal, but his staff said he is still awaiting Ethics Committee signoff on the proposed revisions he submitted.

His Nevada land holdings and mining claims were valued from $496,000 to $1.39 million.

Pelosi's investor husband, Paul, reported 30 stock sales and purchases last year, often involving sums up to $500,000 or $1 million each. They included buying Apple Computer and Ebay stock, each in the $500,000-$1 million range.

The couple also own a vineyard together in St. Helena, Calif., valued at $5 million to $25 million.

Literary earnings

The disclosure forms reveal a variety of income sources. Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., took in rent of $5,001-$15,000 for his cottage in Ireland, and received a $30,000 book advance for "Letters from Nuremburg." His father was a prosecutor at the Nuremburg war crime trials after World War II.

Several other senators were also involved in book projects: Clinton reported royalties of $350,000 for her book "Living History." Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, received a $16,667 advance for a book he is co-writing on radical Islamic movements in Southeast Asia.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., chairwoman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, made $1,462 from sales of her suspense novel, which features a combative, liberal senator much like herself.

Boxer also was paid $737 for playing herself on an episode of the HBO series "Curb Your Enthusiasm."

Lawmakers cannot make more than 15 percent of their salaries in outside earned income, although book royalties are exempt from that limit.

WASHINGTON - JULY 20: U.S. Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-IL) speaks on NBC's 'Meet the Press' July 20, 2003 during a taping at the NBC studios in Washington, DC. Rep. Hastert talked about the current situation in Iraq. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)Alex Wong / Getty Images North America

One lawmaker who is taking a pay cut this year is former Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., who is returning to regular member salary after pulling down $212,500 last year as the House's senior leader.