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Obama sees huge jump in wealth

At the end of 2007, his assets were worth as much as $7.35 million.

May 17, 2008|Dan Morain | Times Staff Writer

Barack Obama's wealth has more than doubled during his presidential campaign -- and has shot up tenfold since he entered the U.S. Senate three years ago, his financial disclosure filed Friday shows.

Obama is the least wealthy of the three major presidential candidates. But with advances and royalties from two bestselling books, Obama's assets were worth between $2.02 million and $7.35 million at the end of 2007, according to a public financial disclosure report filed with the Federal Election Commission.

At the end of 2006, Obama's holdings were worth $455,000 to $1.125 million. When he entered the U.S. Senate in 2005, he reported assets worth between $200,000 and $400,000.

Obama's wealth does not match that of Democratic rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, who has loaned her campaign $11.4 million. She and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, have earned more than $100 million since he left office at the start of the decade. Sen. Clinton received an extension and won't file a financial disclosure statement until next month.

Nor does Obama's wealth match that of Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee. McCain's wife, Cindy, inherited her father's Anheuser-Busch distributorship in the Phoenix area. Although the McCains' holdings are separate, their family wealth is thought to be between $28 million and $100 million.

Obama's money has come largely from sales of his books, "Dreams From My Father" and "The Audacity of Hope." He's also writing a children's book. All three of the candidates have had bestsellers.

Obama's money is mostly invested conservatively in Treasury notes and bond funds, one of which was worth $1 million to $5 million, according to the forms, which require the disclosure of a range of values.

His mutual funds include so-called socially responsible funds, screened to meet certain "social and environmental criteria."

Those funds have major stock holdings in such banking and technology companies as Bank of America and Google, along with McDonald's, Walt Disney and CVS Caremark.

Obama last month released his most recent tax return, which shows that he and his wife, Michelle, earned $4.2 million in 2007, driven primarily by book sales.

His 2006 income was less than $1 million.

Claremont McKenna College political scientist Jack Pitney said that although there were no questions of conflict related to Obama's writings, his wealth could present him with a political problem "because of the issue of elitism," a charge he has sought to fend off during his campaign.

"With millions in the bank, it is a little easier to make that charge stick," Pitney said. But, citing Cindy McCain's wealth, he added, "John McCain is probably not the best messenger."

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dan.morain@latimes.com

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