State’s Congressional delegation weathers the recession

The sour economy has not hit the investment portfolios of Connecticut’s members of Congress too hard. Sure, a few lawmakers, including Sen. Joe Lieberman, have seen a small dip in their investments. And some, such as 5th District Rep. Chris Murphy, didn’t have that much to begin with.

But federal financial disclosure forms released yesterday show that for the most part, Connecticut lawmakers have weathered this economic storm quite well.

Congressional financials 2 6-17-10

Take Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3rd District, who remains by far the wealthiest in the state’s delegation. DeLauro and her husband have holdings worth at least $5.8 million and as much as $26.9 million–about the same they reported in 2008. Lawmakers only have to list the value of their assets in wide ranges, so a precise accounting of their net worth is impossible.

Most of that wealth—between $5 million and $25 million—stems from the polling and consulting firm owned by DeLauro’s husband, Stan Greenberg.

Rep. Jim Himes, D-4th District, a former investment banker at Goldman Sachs, was probably best positioned to navigate a jittery stock market and uncertain economy. But Himes said he “got creamed” in 2009, mostly because he decided to sell off his interests in financial service firms when he was appointed to the House panel that oversees those businesses.

In all, Himes sold between $516,000 and about $1 million in financial services investments, most of which was in Goldman Sachs stock and options he earned when he was a banker there. He sold two other financial services holdings, in the Blackstone Group and the Bank of Nova Scotia, and invested the money in three mutual funds instead.

Himes said he’s not sure how much he lost last year, but he recalls selling his Goldman Sachs stock and options at rock bottom. “I got totally hammered,” he said.

But any decrease in his net worth is not obvious from his disclosure form. He’s still got a sizable cushion—with total assets ranging from 2.3 million to $4.6 million. In 2008, he had a net worth between $1.8 million and $4.58 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Lieberman’s reports show that the value of his assets decreased, losing between $37,000 and $115,000 in value overall. He also had the most investment transactions of any Connecticut lawmaker—totaling 152 sales and purchases in 2009. Most of those holdings are held by Lieberman’s wife, Hadassah, the reports show.

“Most transactions shown come from a mutual fund account that is actively managed by an investment advisory service,” said spokeswoman Erika Masonhall in an email. She declined to comment on the overall value of Lieberman’s assets.

Murphy is probably the least affluent member of the state delegation. He reported only one asset—a life insurance policy worth $500,000 to $1 million. But he’s also in debt, on the hook for two student loans totaling between $30,000 and $100,000 (one is his and the second is his wife’s).

Sen. Christopher Dodd, a Democrat who is retiring this year, is leaving the Senate a much wealthier man than when he arrived. His assets in 2009 were worth between $1.01 million to $2.26 million. In 1995, the oldest report available online, Dodd disclosed between $52,000 and $130,000 in holdings.

Asked how he’s leaving the Senate in such good financial shape, he quipped: “My wife works.”

Although lawmakers are not required to disclose the amount their spouses’ salaries, they must disclose sources of income. Dodd’s wife, Jackie Clegg, sat on the board of seven companies and foundations in 2009, and she earned director’s fees from six of those, including Blockbuster Inc., the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, and Cardiome Pharma Corp. A spokesman for Dodd said she is no longer on the boards of Blockbuster and one other firm listed in the 2009 report, Pear Tree Pharmaceuticals.