NASHVILLE — Despite spending nearly $700,000 of his own money to help win his congressional race last year, Republican U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, of Chattanooga, still had enough assets to qualify him for Congress’ millionaires’ club, new filings show.
In personal financial disclosures for 2010, filed last month with the U.S. House Clerk’s office, the 3rd Congressional District freshman lawmaker reported assets of between $1.66 million to $3.41 million. He reported no liabilities.
Under federal law, U.S. representatives and senators must disclose their personal investments and liabilities. But they only have to report them in broad categories, allowing them to keep from public view the precise value of an asset or debt.
Fleischmann, an attorney, disclosed holdings including an interest in his and his wife’s law firm, Fleischmann & Fleischmann. He valued his interest at between $50,001 to $100,000.
He also reported $163,144 last year in income from the law firm. As a congressman, he now makes $174,000 annually but cannot continue to practice law. Spouses are required to list income sources but not amounts.
The congressman’s spokesman, Jordan Powell, did not respond to a request for a statement of the congressman’s net worth, which is not required by the House.
Powell did issue an email statement noting that “Chuck has filled out the appropriate public paperwork, and will continue to comply with the Ethics Committee’s requirements.”
Most of Fleischmann’s reportable assets were socked away in banks. But it was sometimes unclear from the report whether the money was in a savings account or investment vehicles such as mutual stock or bond funds or individual stocks and bonds.
Among the assets he listed was between $500,001 to $1 million invested with “Wells Fargo Investments.” His annual disclosure listed income of between $15,001 to $50,000 in dividends, interest and capital gains from the sale of part of the investment, which was unspecified.
He reported total unearned income such as interest, dividends and sales for all holdings at between $28,705 to $83,500.
The reports do not require lawmakers to list the value of their principal residence.
Dave Levinthal with the nonpartisan, Washington-based Center for Responsive Politics, said it is not at all unusual for U.S. representatives and senators to be wealthy.
“We find that in recent years the average member of Congress is exponentially more wealthy than the people he or she represents. That’s not to say that’s a good thing or a bad thing.”
Lawmakers were required to file the disclosures by May 15, but most were only publicly released on Wednesday. Last year, the Capitol Hill newspaper, The Hill, estimated that 50 of the richest representatives and senators were worth almost $1.4 billion in 2009. Among the millionaires were U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn.
He said the disclosures “should be important to the average American because No. 1, they can decide for themselves whether a member’s investments are something they would personally be OK with and it allows them to monitor any personal conflicts of interest.”
Meanwhile, another Tennessee Republican freshman, U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, of Jasper, reported assets of between $403,009 to $945,000 last year.
The 4th Congressional District lawmaker, who is a physician, says in his disclosure that he earned $148,905 from his practice and had unearned income such as interest as well dividends and other income of between $5,002 to $15,200.
He valued his medical practice at between $100,001 to $250,000. He owns a commercial lot in South Pittsburg, Tenn., valued at between $50,000 to $100,000. He had two Pacific Life annuities valued at between $50,000 to $100,000 each.
DesJarlais reported selling two stock funds with Morgan Stanley during last year’s GOP primary at a loss.
His liabilities were pegged at $95,004 to $250,000. Among other debts, he owes between $15,001 to $50,000 on his Bank of America Mastercard. He has a business line of credit at $15,001 to $50,000 with First Southern Bank of Scottsboro, Ala.
DesJarlais spokesman Robert Jameson did not respond to request for information about the congressman’s net worth nor whether he had sold his doctor’s practice.
“Attached is Representative DesJarlais’ financial disclosure report,” he said in an email. “The numbers filed on the report are accurate.”
Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...