Presidential Cribs and Personal Financial Disclosure


Since the presidential race has turned into an episode of MTV Cribs – next up, web ads with seizure inducing editing of million dollar homes – I figured that it would be worth while to look at the personal financial disclosures of John McCain and Barack Obama to see what information we can find on their houses.

Oh wait, what’s that? Personal financial disclosure rules don’t require the listing of residential properties. That’s why no one knew about Chris Dodd’s favorable mortgage from Countrywide or Rep. Laura Richardson’s two foreclosures.

Looking at Obama and McCain’s form I can see that some of McCains eight to eleven residential properties are listed under Cindy McCain’s name while Obama’s home is not listed. Here are some of the ones listed on the McCain financial disclosure:

Residential Real Estate Held for Investment, Coronado, CA – Over $1 million

Sedona Property, Cornville, AZ (Two Parcels. Parcel 1: Residence and Guest House. Parcel 2: Guest House.) – Over $1 million

Those are only two residential property listings that appear in both candidates financial disclosures. There are few proposals flying around Congress to require home disclosure on personal financial disclosures. Perhaps they should address this.

On another personal financial disclosure related topic, I noticed the Mark Nicholas used our Fortune 535 site to compare the net worth of Barack Obama and John McCain. Unfortunately, the site uses as its most recent filing, the 2007 report, which represents the year 2006. This was prior to the huge profits made by Obama through royalties from his latest book. So, if you want to get the most recent average net worth, you’d have to look at his 2008 report (covering 2007), in which he reports well over a million in assets.

John McCain is another story. McCain is the only member of Congress who still checks a box that lists asset value at “Over $1 million”. He does this under an exemption rule allowing the filer to not identify the actual range, over $1 million, if the asset is held by a spouse or dependent child. I should reiterate that McCain is the only member of Congress who claims this exemption and fills out the “Over $1 million” box for many assets. John Kerry, Dianne Feinstein, Jane Harman, and Nancy Pelosi all list the highest accurate value range for their spouse’s large holdings; John McCain does not. Considering this, John McCain, when combined with the actual value of Cindy McCain’s holdings, is worth much more than the amount we extracted from his personal financial disclosures for Fortune 535.

Bottom line: Obama worth more than listed and McCain worth way more.