Friday, May 16, 2014 | 2:59 p.m.
How wealthy are Nevada’s senators?
Lawmakers in Washington, D.C., don’t always talk about their personal lives, especially when it comes to their finances. But once a year, our congressional leaders are required to give us a glimpse into their wallets.
Senators, including Nevada's Democrat Harry Reid and Republican Dean Heller, filed detailed documents Thursday that reveal where they invested and how much they made or lost in the past year. House members’ reports will become public next month.
We sifted through it all to find four things you should know about Nevada’s senators’ personal wealth:
1. Our senators are multi-millionaires.
This isn’t news that’s developed in the past year, but it’s worth pointing out again. According to the latest reports, Reid has assets at a minimum of $2.9 million and a maximum $6.5 million; Heller’s assets are at a minimum of $2.9 million and maximum of $9.3 million. Reid, who has spent the past 27 years in Congress, has made his money through a series of real estate investments. Much of Heller’s wealth comes from holdings his wife, Lynne, has in her family’s California company, The Brombach Family Ltd Partnership, which holds more than $1 million in municipal bonds in California. As for their liabilities, Reid has a credit line between $100,000 to $250,000, and Heller has two mortgages between $1 million and $2 million.
2. But Reid isn’t as rich as he used to be.
The Senate majority leader’s wealth peaked in 2010 at a maximum of $10 million but since then has stayed at a maximum of around $6 million. The exact reason of the change in his wealth isn’t clear, as lawmakers are only required to give ranges of their assets and liabilities. About one-third of the senator’s portfolio is held in real estate and mining claims, many in his hometown of Searchlight, while the rest is divvied into mutual funds and municipal bonds as far away as Alaska and Hawaii. (It should be noted the latter investments are done via an adviser running Reid’s Wells Fargo trust who stated in a letter attached to Reid’s financial disclosure that he doesn’t consult the senator or his wife when making those municipal bond investments.)
While Reid has steadily grown wealthier the past 27 years he's been in Congress, Heller's wealth has stayed more or less the same since he first came to DC as a representative in 2007.
3. Heller and his wife bought more farmland in Nevada.
Heller and his wife originally bought about 37 acres of mostly alfalfa farmland in Lyon County in 2010, where they earn money by selling hay and renting out a home on the land. Although they took about a $20,000 hit in earnings from the venture in 2012, the couple decided to step up their investments last year. In February 2013, the Hellers purchased the adjoining 147 acres at a cost between $1 million and $5 million.
4. Neither senator ranks near the top of wealthy members of Congress.
For the first time in history, most members of Congress are independently millionaires, according to opensecrets.org. Both Reid and Heller fit that mold, coming to Congress already millionaires. But according to 2012 data, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., is the richest member of Congress at a minimum net worth of $330 million. The richest senator? Mark Warner, D-Va., who has a minimum net worth of $96 million.