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CAMPAIGN 2000

Family Finances Fall Short of Other Candidates'

Campaign: Liebermans have about $1-million net worth, with his Senate paycheck as the key source.

October 20, 2000|THOMAS S. MULLIGAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

NEW YORK — As a purely financial creature, Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman may be the least noteworthy of the four men at the top of the Democratic and Republican national tickets.

The Connecticut lawmaker hasn't owned a piece of a major league baseball team like George W. Bush, held tobacco and mining interests like Al Gore or cashed in millions of dollars of corporate stock options like Dick Cheney.

"This is a guy who has not had a real private-sector job," Chris DePino, Connecticut state Republican chairman, said recently of Lieberman.

But while he also is relatively poor by Senate standards, Lieberman is not lacking for resources.

Based on annual Senate disclosure reports and on 10 years of tax returns he recently made public, Lieberman and his wife, Hadassah, probably have a net worth of around $1 million, including real estate, but it is hard to be sure.

Senate rules permit members to list their holdings within broad value ranges and allow them to exclude personal residences. For example, Joseph Lieberman's largest single listed asset is a blind trust valued at $100,001 to $250,000.

But clearly, his most important asset is his job as a U.S. senator, which paid a salary of $126,700 last year. It has been his main source of income since his election in 1988 and will provide him with a substantial pension when he retires.

Lieberman's political prominence also arguably helped secure him a $45,000 advance last year from Simon & Schuster for his memoir, "In Praise of Public Life."

The Liebermans declared an adjusted gross income of $336,201 in 1999, paying $78,700, or 23.4%, in federal taxes. They reported charitable donations last year of $13,804, or 4% of their income. Charitable giving averaged 3.7% of their income during the 1990s.

Their 1999 income included $80,000 that Hadassah Lieberman earned as a consultant for the American Committee for Shaare Zedek Medical Center, a prominent hospital in Jerusalem.

Shaare Zedek has been criticized for denying in vitro fertilization to mixed-faith couples, a policy the hospital has said is grounded in Orthodox Jewish law. The Liebermans said they were unaware of the policy until it was reported by Fox News in September.

By then, Hadassah Lieberman already had joined her husband's campaign full time. She has no plans to return to Shaare Zedek, however, because "she wouldn't be comfortable continuing to work for a hospital that had that kind of policy," a spokeswoman said.

The Liebermans also were paid $60,000 last year--$20,000 to him and $40,000 to her--for managing family trusts established by the senator's late uncle, Bernard L. Manger.

Manger built a successful electrical-equipment firm in Stamford, Conn., and left a fortune valued at $48 million when he died in 1995.

Lieberman received a $25,000 bequest when his uncle died, but he is not a beneficiary of the trusts, which mainly benefit his uncle's widow, his four Manger cousins and their children. Lieberman has announced that if elected vice president, he will resign his position with the trust, even though the law does not require it.

In his personal IRA and savings accounts, the senator lists mainly U.S. Treasury securities and bank certificates of deposit, valued between $26,000 and $215,000.

Joint accounts at Merrill Lynch and several banks contain mutual funds worth around $21,000 plus certificates of deposit and other investments worth $7,000 to $105,000.

Hadassah Lieberman's personal IRA and stock accounts at Merrill Lynch are easier to value, since they list some specific stocks and mutual funds.

Her largest single holding is 1,000 shares of Pfizer, the pharmaceutical firm where she used to work. Those shares are worth about $45,000. In all, her accounts are worth between $250,000 and $350,000.

Two of her former holdings--200 shares of CBS (now Viacom) and 250 shares of Fox Entertainment Group--raised eyebrows because of Sen. Lieberman's outspoken criticism of sex and violence in the entertainment media.

Lieberman has said that he was unaware of those holdings until he filed his annual disclosure statement in May. He emphasized that his wife controls those accounts and that she has since sold the Viacom and Fox shares.

In total, the Liebermans' IRA, stock and bank accounts are worth from $400,000 to more than $900,000.

Their real estate includes a house in Washington, co-owned by the Manger estate and assessed at $524,985; a house in New Haven, Conn., assessed at $150,486; and a condominium in New Haven assessed at $52,500.

If the Liebermans' equity in those properties is 20% and they have appreciated along with the consumer price index, it would add about $150,000 to their net worth.

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