Al Gross, an orthopedic surgeon running for US House in Alaska as an independent, owns rental property in California and part of an office building in Juneau.
One of his main rivals, Republican Nick Begich, is in six figures in cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and litecoin, as well as a stake of at least $1 million in a software company he founded that now has more than 100 employees and offices around the world. three countries.
Chris Constant, one of the Democrats in the race, is still paying off student loans.
Newly Filed Financial Disclosures reveal the huge wealth disparities that are shaping the special election among 48 candidates for Alaska’s only House seat.
The documents, which are required by federal law from candidates this month, offer insight into each person’s assets and business interests. They also underscore the advantages that personal wealth can bring to a congressional campaign.
begich, who reported assets Worth at least $10.8 million and up to $46 million, he has loaned his own campaign $650,000, which is more than half of the cash he has raised so far.
Meanwhile, Gross spent $730,000 of his own money on his unsuccessful 2020 US Senate bid, a campaign that set the stage for his short notice this year. reported goodssome held jointly with his wife, of at least $8.7 million and no more than $23 million.
The campaign of a third candidate, former Republican Governor Sarah Palin, on Tuesday provided a copy of a report which said it had been filed with the clerk of the US House of Representatives, although the document had not yet been sent to the clerk’s database.
Palin reported assets worth at least $950,000 and no more than $2.4 million, much of that linked to a Wells Fargo savings account that holds between $500,000 and $1 million.
[Voter guide: Alaska’s 48 U.S. House candidates in the 2022 special primary election]
Meanwhile, the amounts Begich and Gross have disclosed spending on their campaigns represent roughly 10 years of income for the average Alaskan household.
Constant has spent only $400 on his own campaign, and reported assets valued at less than $100,000.
Wealthy candidates enjoy another advantage beyond the ability to spend freely on their campaigns, said Michael Beckel, director of research in Washington, D.C. number onea nonpartisan advocacy group that seeks to limit the role of money in politics.
They also tend to have wealthier networks of friends, relatives and professional contacts who are more likely to donate significant amounts to their campaign, Beckel said.
“If you don’t rub shoulders with wealthy donors, it’s very difficult to get into those circles,” Beckel said. “The odds are stacked against candidates of modest means trying to run for office.”
Modest income as a point of sale
Half a dozen candidates in the race reported more than $1 million in assets on their financial disclosures.
They include Jeff Lowenfels, the natural resources attorney and garden writer. who reported owning at least $500,000 worth of Apple stock.
Another is Tara Sweeney, the Alaska Native leader, who reported a stake worth at least $500,000 in a new Arctic-focused climate business, Seven Glaciers, which works on carbon offset sales.
Those fortunes outweigh the wealth that U.S. Rep. Don Young, whom the candidates are vying to replace, amassed during his half-century in Congress. his last revelationfiled in 2021 before his sudden death in March, he reported assets valued at just $580,000.
While there are 48 candidates in the June 11 special primary, the House clerk’s office had released disclosures for only 12 as of Tuesday. The campaigns that had filed the documents had differing interpretations of the rules dictating when the disclosures had to be filed, although the latest of those deadlines was Monday.
Candidates are only required to file if they raise or spend more than $5,000 for their campaigns, and many of those vying for the seat formerly held by Young are running low-profile campaigns.
The rules also do not require applicants to list their homes as assets, unless they are generating rental income. And the value of other assets (stocks and bonds, trading interests, cryptocurrencies) are reported in ranges like $1,001 to $15,000, rather than exact amounts.
While some candidates’ asset lists exceed 10 pages, Constant Disclosure Lists just two entries: your retirement accounts, each worth between $15,000 and $50,000.
He reported approximately $150,000 in income earned in 2021, from his jobs as a member of the Anchorage Assembly and at the nonprofit Akeela social services, along with real estate sales.
Constant said his campaign’s fundraising efforts, which have yielded roughly $100,000 so far, have been successful, though that total falls short of the $370,000 Begich has raised from others for his own House bid.
Nonetheless, Constant presents his relative lack of personal wealth as a selling point.
“The upside is that, practically speaking, I understand what it’s like to make a living, which is what most Alaskans experience,” Constant said. And he added: “I am a hard-working person. I don’t come from wealth.
Mary Peltola, another Democrat running for the primary, reported less than $200,000 in assets and $89,000 in earnings last year from his work leading a tribal fishery management group in his home region of Southwest Alaska.
Peltola said he is taking unpaid leave from that position, and as he contemplated launching his campaign, he had to consider whether he would be able to make his mortgage, utility bill and car loan payments.
Like Constant, Peltola said her life experience makes her better suited to writing policies that will benefit Alaskan workers.
“Our electoral system is really set up so that those seats are chased by people who are financially secure and who are mostly retired,” Peltola said. “I think most Alaskans, myself included, live payday up to three days before paycheck.”
Wealth as your own asset
Meanwhile, the wealthiest candidates in the race have access to personal assets that are beyond the reach of the vast majority of Alaskans.
Gross, the orthopedic surgeon, did not respond to interview requests made through his campaign.
Begich, one of the Republicans in the race and a billionaire, rejected the idea that his money risks putting him out of touch with potential voters.
He said his family “struggled” when he was growing up, and at one point, Begich said, he had more than $100,000 in student loans, since he paid it off.
“I can certainly relate to the struggle that a lot of Alaskans are having right now,” he said in a phone interview.
One of the largest portions of Begich’s wealth, between $5 million and $25 million, is invested in his 69% stake in Far Shore Partnersthe software company he founded around 2006.
It now has 150 employees and maintains offices in Anchorage, Chicago, Croatia and India. And it counts Encyclopedia Britannica, Valspar Corp. and Northwestern University among its clients, who pay Farshore to create software for customers and employees.
Begich also owns a 42% stake in another business, Dash Fire Management, which advises emerging companies. It reported other assets linked to the company that owns the Aviator Hotel in downtown Anchorage, a company that operates a grocery store in the central North Slope town of Utqiagvik, several investment funds, a family-owned publishing company, and a company that owns land within of Wrangell-St. Elijah National Park.
In the interview, Begich said his investment and business experience would give him an important perspective in Congress.
“We hear a lot about the diversification of the Alaskan economy. And the diversification of the economy is going to originate from the creation of companies”, said Begich. “This is something I’ve spent my entire career on.”
Begich also argues that his wealth itself, not just his accumulated experience, would come in handy if he were chosen. His assets, he said, insulate him from reliance on special interests or particular sympathetic groups, and ensure that he won’t have to fight to keep his homes in Alaska and Washington.
He said Young, the former congressman, once described how dozens of representatives sleep in their offices in the United States Capitol.
“That’s emblematic of a problem that’s unsustainable — it taxes the member in a way that makes it hard for them to do great work, if they’re worried about their personal finances,” Begich said. “I’ve worked hard, but I’ve also been lucky that some of my investments and business activities allow me to move on and not worry as much.”
Palin’s campaign did not make her available for an interview about her disclosure, although she shared the copy of the four page document.
The disclosure does not appear to indicate a substantial increase in wealth since Palin was last asked to report her assets. during his 2008 vice presidential bid. But it does show that the former governor has several important sources of income.
Those include his appearances on the Cameo website, which allows celebrities to sell personalized videos to customers.
Palin, whose account It has a five-star rating from 465 reviews, charges $199 for videos for “personal use” and $1,000 or more for business. It reported $211,500 in Cameo revenue last year and $44,500 so far in 2022.
“Website advertising” paid Palin $88,600 last year and $56,500 so far this year, her report says.
Raised $40,000 for speaking at a fundraiser last year for A Woman’s Haven, a crisis pregnancy center in San Antonio that tries to discourage women from having abortions.
The conservative group Club for Growth paid Palin $10,000 last year, which she says was for participating in a bus tour aimed at boosting Republican candidates in the runoff elections in late 2020 for the US Senate. USA in Georgia.
And a London-based bank, Coutts, paid him $6,700 last year for a “guest appearance.”
Daily News reporter Iris Samuels contributed to this story.