IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

McCain, wife owed $225,000 in credit card debt

Senators John McCain and Barack Obama released their Senate financial disclosure statements on Friday, revealing that McCain and his wife had at least $225,000 in credit card debt.
/ Source: The New York Times

Senators John McCain and Barack Obama released their Senate financial disclosure statements on Friday, revealing that Mr. McCain and his wife had at least $225,000 in credit card debt and that Mr. Obama and his wife had put more than $200,000 into college funds for their daughters.

The bulk of the McCains’ obligations stemmed from a pair of American Express credit cards that are held in Cindy McCain’s name. According to the disclosure reports, which present information on debts in a range rather than providing a precise figure, Mrs. McCain owed $100,000 to $250,000 on each card.

Another charge card, held by what was described as a “dependent child,” had also accumulated debts of $15,000 to $50,000. In addition, a credit card held jointly by the couple was carrying $10,000 to $15,000 in debt, the filing indicated, at a stiff 25.99 percent interest rate.

Under Congressional reporting rules, spouses of senators need not specify the exact amount of income they earn from employment, only whether that money exceeded $1,000. Neither Mrs. McCain, an heiress of the Hensley beer distribution company, nor Michelle Obama, a lawyer turned hospital administrator, provided additional information on their salaries in the disclosure form.

Land sold at $1 million profit
Mrs. McCain’s filing, however, indicated that she had substantial holdings in property and stocks — including shares in Anheuser-Busch, which this week became the target of a takeover bid that is expected to send its value climbing. Her land holdings included parcels in Arizona and California, one of which was sold last year for a profit of more than $1 million.

In other filings, the McCains have reported total household assets of $24.6 million to $39.5 million. In recently releasing a summary version of her 2006 tax return, Mrs. McCain reported income that year of more than $6 million, some $300,000 of which was derived from her salary as the chairwoman of Hensley, which was founded by her father.

Information provided in the name of Mrs. Obama, whose 2006 tax return indicated income of $273,618 from the University of Chicago Hospitals, showed that she also earned at least $1,000 for work done for Treehouse Foods, where she was a salaried board member. She relinquished her position at that company, a major supplier to Wal-Mart, in May 2007, after her husband criticized Wal-Mart’s labor practices.

Obama's $4 million in book royalties
In addition to his Senate salary, $165,200 last year, Mr. Obama reported book royalties of more than $4 million in 2007. Those figures reflect the vigorous sales of his two books, “Dreams From My Father” and “The Audacity of Hope,” in the months leading up to and after his entry into the presidential race early last year.

Mr. Obama and his wife have invested those earnings in a variety of ways. In May, for example, they put at least $1 million into a money market fund, and in July invested $100,000 to $250,000 into college savings accounts for each of their two daughters, who are in elementary school. The Obamas have often noted on the campaign trail that they had only recently paid off their own college loans.

Mr. McCain also reported income from book royalties and signings, though significantly smaller than Mr. Obama’s: $176,488. That money is reported to have been donated to charity. In addition, as a retired Navy officer, Mr. McCain receives an annual pension of $58,358.

This story, Disclosures Give Look at Candidates’ Personal Finances, originally appeared in The New York Times.