Entries in Politicians (3)


Politicians Rank High on "Forbes" Billionaires List

ABC/Donna Svennevik(NEW YORK) -- Some say that there is a lot of money in politics. Well, according to the Forbes 2013 Billionaires List, there are many politicians who have a lot of money too.

Here are the politicians topping Forbes' list:

Michael Bloomberg

The richest politician to grace the list this year is New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is ranked as the seventh richest person in the United States.

Bloomberg, 71, is sitting pretty with a net worth of more than $27 billion, making himself the 13th richest person in the world and the world's richest politician.  Bloomberg, who has run New York City since 2002, has diversified his money in many different spheres of politics, media and philanthropy.

Ross Perot, Sr.

Another American politician on Forbes' Billionaire List is two-time presidential candidate Ross Perot. Perot was a presidential contender and is now the 126th richest person in the United States with a net worth of more than $3.5 billion.

The United States leads the Forbes list with 442 billionaires, but it is not the only country with politicians worth a pretty penny.

Russia's Mikhail Prokhorov and Andrei Guriev

Billionaire and Russian politician Mikhail Prokhorov made the top 100 cut on Forbes' list ranking number 69 with a net worth of more than $13 billion, making him the 10th richest person in Russia. The 47-year-old politician who ran against Russian President Vladimir Putin in the 2012 presidential election is also a sports enthusiast who owns the NBA's Brooklyn Nets.

Russia is home to another very wealthy politician.  Andrei Guriev, who has served as senator to Federation Council in Russia since 2001, is worth more than $3.5 billion. The bulk of his wealth comes from his control over Fosagro, one of the world's four biggest phosphor fertilizer producers.

Georgia's Bidzina Ivanishvili

Georgia also has a very wealthy politician — so wealthy, in fact his net worth is equal to half of the country's GDP. Bidzina Ivanishvili successfully won his campaign in October 2012 and now serves as prime minister as well as the richest man in the Eurasian country.  He's ranked number 229 in the world on the Forbes list and is worth $5.2 billion.

Italy's Silvio Berlusconi

Silvio Berlusconi resigned from his position as the Italian prime minister after scandals and gaffes surrounding his time in office. But Berlusconi can have the last laugh as he placed number 194 on the Forbes list with a net worth of $6.2 billion.

The 76-year old was sentenced to four years in jail for tax fraud and was accused of engaging in sexual relations with 17-year-old Moroccan girl during his term but  Berlusconi remains the seventh wealthiest individual in Italy.

Political Donors

Aside from politicians there are hoards of political donors on the Forbes' Billionaire List. The top 10 wealthiest people alone include Warren Buffett and the Koch Brothers, who are avid political supporters.

According to Mother Jones, Koch Industries and its affiliates Georgia-Pacific and Flint Hills Resources donated more than $2.2 million to candidates and parties during this the 2012 election cycle. Some 95 percent of its corporate donations in the past two years have gone to Republicans.

Warren Buffett on the other hand is generous Democratic supporter, having contributed to President Barack Obama's campaign. Buffett was also the influence for a proposal to make sure that millionaires pay at least the same tax rate as those in lower brackets, a proposal that the president has referred to as the "Buffett Rule."

The three donors are collectively worth more than $121 billion.

This year's Forbes Billionaire's list has 1,426 names with an aggregate net worth of $5.4 trillion. This figure has risen from last year's $4.6 trillion.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


As Americans Get Poorer, Members of Congress Get Richer

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- While millions of Americans saw their incomes decrease, their job opportunities dissipate and their home values drop as the economy dipped, the 535 men and women they elected to represent them in the U.S. Congress were not only shielded from the economic downturn but gained during it.

The average American’s net worth has dropped 8 percent during the past six years, while members of Congress got, on average, 15 percent richer, according to a New York Times analysis of financial disclosure.  The median net worth of members of Congress is about $913,000, compared with about $100,000 for the country at large, the Times’ analysis found.

This wealth disparity between lawmakers and the people they represent seems to be continually growing. Nearly half of Congress -- 249 members -- are millionaires, while only 5 percent of American households can make the same claim.

Even among the super rich, members of Congress fare better than other wealthy Americans. While the net worth of the richest 10 percent of Americans has remained stagnant since 2004, lawmakers’ net worth has seen double-digit growth, the Times reports.

Members of the House have fared especially well. From 1984 to 2009, the average net worth of the 435 House reps more than doubled, from $280,000 to $725,000, not including home equity, according to a Washington Post analysis of financial disclosures.

And while lawmakers in the “people’s house” grew significantly richer, the people they represent became slightly poorer, with the average wealth of an American household dropping from $20,600 to $20,500 over the same time period, the Post reports.

This growing disparity may be due, in part, to the rising cost of campaigning, which may deter less-affluent citizens from seeking public office.

To win a House seat, candidates spent an average of $1.4 million in 2010, four times as much as was spent in 1976, according to the Federal Election Commission. Winning a Senate seat is nearly 10 times as expensive, with the average successful Senate campaign shelling out nearly $10 million in 2010.

Unquestionably in Congress' favor: security trading laws. While all Americans -- including those in the so-called "1%" that even some on Capitol Hill malign as "fat cats" -- are beholden to insider trading laws, Congress members are not, allowing them and members of their staffs to trade on insider info about economic data, patents, and other market-shaking information.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


When CEO Political Campaigns Go Wrong

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A tremendously successful businessman, Herbert Hoover is widely regarded as one of the worst presidents in U.S. history, whose economic policies and slow intervention exacerbated   the Great Depression.

Decades later, today's lagging economy and stagnant unemployment rate have led to a demand for a new kind of thinking in Washington, paving the way for the increasing popularity of a familiar breed, the businessman-turned-politician. With two former CEOs vying for presidential nominations -- Mitt Romney and Herman Cain -- and both leading the pack, here's a look back at some CEOs whose economic and business success failed to translate in the political arena.

Businessman Al Checchi, former co-chairman of Northwest Airlines, spent more than $40 million of his own money running for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination for California in 1998 but ended up a distant second to Gov. Gray Davis. Stereotyped as the "rich" candidate, the mega-millionaire participated in the transformation of three major American companies -- Marriott, Walt Disney and Northwest Airlines -- and is now the author of a new book, The Change Maker: Preserving the Promise of America.

Publisher and editor-in-chief of Forbes magazine, Steve Forbes, entered the presidential race in 1996 and 2000. Forbes' campaigns primarily dealt with, of course, economics, touting the idea of a flat income tax for all Americans. Despite winning the Arizona and Delaware primaries in 1996, he never secured the Republican nomination and dropped out early in 2000. A Time magazine editorial later likened his stiff campaign style to that of a "dork robot" constructed by a "mad scientist."

Billionaire Ross Perot, founder of Electronic Data Systems and Perot Systems, ran for president as a third party candidate in 1992 and 1996. Perot was at one point a front-runner in the 1992 election, but his unwillingness to listen to his campaign advisers or follow their advice caused his poll numbers to slip phenomenally fast, and he withdrew his candidacy in July. The Texas native ran again four years later, but lost once more to Bill Clinton.

Meg Whitman, former president of eBay, ran for governor of California in 2010 and spent more of her own money campaigning than any other self-funded political candidate in U.S. history, including Michael Bloomberg. Before eBay, Whitman had also served as an executive for the Walt Disney Co. (the parent company of ABC News), DreamWorks, Procter & Gamble and Hasbro. Despite her impressive corporate resume and personal expenditures that exceeded $140 million, Whitman lost to Jerry Brown. Whitman is now the president and CEO of Hewlett-Packard. Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett Packard, ran for California's Senate seat that same year but lost to Democratic incumbent Barbara Boxer.

Linda McMahon, former World Wrestling Entertainment CEO, was a candidate for Connecticut's Senate seat in 2010, campaigning on a platform of fiscal conservatism. Like Whitman, McMahon ran a personally financed campaign, and her spending was often criticized by her opponents. McMahon secured the GOP nomination, but she lost to Democrat Richard Blumenthal in the general election. Despite her failed bid in 2010, McMahon has announced that she will run again for the Senate in 2012.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio